State GOP will tone down large request for Stuart email

Boldt intervenes; party seeks fewer of Stuart’s messages

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt said Wednesday the Washington State Republican Party has agreed to file a new public disclosure request for Commissioner Steve Stuart’s emails.

Boldt said the party will ask for only 10 months of emails instead of 81 months.

Boldt said he spoke with Peter Graves, executive director of the state Republican party.

“I said, I don’t want to say anything bad about my party, but that I’m prepared to,” Boldt said.

A call to Graves was not immediately returned.

The revised request will save county employees hundreds of hours of work. Boldt said he explained to Graves that the initial request would have cost thousands of dollars worth of staff time.

The party filed a Sept. 27 request asking for all of Stuart’s emails from Jan. 1, 2005, through Sept. 20, 2011.

The party has also requested Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt’s emails from Jan. 1, 2010 through Sept. 20, 2011.

Last week, Josh Amato, communications director for the state Republican party, said the requests were filed because Stuart and Leavitt have been mentioned as two potential opponents for U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas.

“We are asking for those records because we want to see what they are doing on official government time,” Amato said Sept. 29.

Leavitt and Stuart, who have both said they are evaluating whether to run, said the requests amounted to a “political fishing expedition” and said the state Republican party should not waste the time of city and county staff for political purposes.

Chairman Dwight Pelz of the Washington State Democrats also criticized the requests, saying they are “probably more intended to intimidate than to enlighten.”

He said he files requests for documents from elected Republican officials, but his requests are targeted to find information in the context of a critical issue.

The Sept. 27 requests signed by state Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur, by contrast, asked for every email Stuart and Leavitt have received or sent since taking office.

Washington’s public records law, passed in 1972, requires that “all public records and documents in state and local agencies” must be available for public inspection and copying.

Public agencies that don’t comply can be fined up to $100 a day.

There are exemptions under the public records law. It’s not as simple as just turning the documents over to the requestor. Most of the documents will have to be reviewed by a deputy prosecuting attorney or an assistant city attorney to make sure individual, business or legal confidentiality exemptions are followed.

Stephanie Rice: www.facebook.com/reporterrice; www.twitter.com/col_clarkgov; stephanie.rice@columbian.com.