Pa. court widens AP open-records victory

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state court has expanded a ruling barring the state Senate from withholding information about private legal bills paid by taxpayers when lawmakers get into trouble.

A Commonwealth Court panel ruled Wednesday in favor of The Associated Press, saying the Senate must release employees' names and a description of the legal services.

Responding to a right-to-know request several years ago, the Senate provided a list with the clients and descriptions blacked out.

The court previously ruled such information is generally not shielded by attorney-client privilege as the Senate asserted. Wednesday's ruling rejected Senate claims that it is covered by secrecy protections for such activities as grand jury proceedings or criminal investigations.

AP attorney Gayle Sproul says the ruling is thorough and correct.

A request seeking Senate comment wasn't immediately returned.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.