Ige refuses to release COVID-19 communications, citing emergency order

Ige refuses to release COVID-19 communications, citing emergency order
Gov. David Ige addressed the state in a news conference Thursday. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s office declined to provide copies of communications about the coronavirus that his staff exchanged with the state Department of Health, the tourism industry and other organizations.

The Associated Press asked for the documents in May under Hawaii’s open records law, the Uniform Information Practices Act. Ige’s office said it would not comply, however, citing an emergency order he signed suspending deadlines for such information due to the pandemic.

“When the suspension is lifted and government employees are able to work in their offices and normal government operations have resumed, your request will be addressed,” the governor’s office said.

The AP filed similar open-records requests to governors’ offices across the U.S. during a critical period when they were considering reopening plans after coronavirus shutdowns.

Thousands of pages of emails provided to the AP show that governors were inundated with reopening advice from a wide range of industries, and sometimes allowed businesses to help write the rules for their own operations.

The AP received records at no cost from at least 15 states. A few states sought to charge the AP hundreds or thousands of dollars. Many others still haven’t provided records, citing delays in complying with open-records laws because of the coronavirus.

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