Reynolds Vows Transparency, Calls State Board Action “Probably Legal”

Aug 29, 2017

Gov. Kim Reynolds today defended the executive branch agency that’s charged with overseeing compliance with Iowa’s open meetings and public records laws.  

The Iowa Public Information Board is itself the subject of a complaint alleging a violation of the law.    

IPIB is in a legal struggle to force the Burlington Police Department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to release video from a fatal 2015 police shooting.   

"They're working through what has taken place." Gov. Reynolds

As allowed by law, the board met in closed session last week to discuss the case.

Board members then took a public vote without disclosing what they were voting on, an apparent open meetings violation.     

The Des Moines Register filed an open meetings complaint against the board, but the nine-member panel cannot investigate a complaint against itself.  

“I think they're actually working with the A.G.’s [attorney general's] office right now and having some discussions,” Reynolds said at her weekly news conference when asked how the board would handle the complaint.  “They’re working through what has taken place and they’ll be putting that response, releasing that to the public soon.”    

Reynolds said she couldn’t comment on the ongoing legal action.

“But I can tell you the agency, as well as our administration, a priority is to have an open and transparent government,”   Reynolds said.  “I believe that’s their priority as they work through this.” 

"It's difficult to know what the next step is going to be." Attorney Mark McCormick

Earlier Tuesday, an administrative law judge set a later hearing date in the case at the request of Mark McCormack, the Des Moines attorney the Public Information Board has hired to prosecute the case.     

McCormack told the judge he has to consider the possibility that the board could announce at its next meeting that it is dropping the case against the law enforcement agencies.   

“My understanding is that the board in a closed session a few days ago made a decision that's going to be incorporated in an order that won’t be considered until the next board meeting,” McCormack said.   “Pending that order being entered, it's difficult to know what the next step is going to be in the case.”

IPIB has been seeking the release of all the police camera footage related to 34-year-old Autumn Steele's death. She died after a Burlington policeman responding to an alleged domestic dispute shot at a dog, hitting and fatally wounding Steele.   

Steele's family and The Burlington Hawk Eye have been seeking release of all the video from the incident.