Guillory Now Facing Lawsuit Over New Public Records Costs
Two local media outlets have filed a lawsuit against Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory in the 15th Judicial District Court, in response to his administration's new policy of charging $1 per page for digital copies of public records.
The suit, filed jointly by The Acadiana Advocate and The Current, states that the defendent, "Joshua S. Guillory, in his official capacity as President of the Lafayette Consolidated Government and Custodian of Records," is "violating the public records law" in place in Louisiana.
Christiaan Mader, Editor of The Current, announced late last week that the publication was raising money for legal fees.
"The Petitioners seek to enjoin the Defendant from continuing to violate the Public Records Law," the suit says, "and declare that the Defendant has no basis for charging $1 per page for electronic records."
The suit details Mader's experience in requestion public records recently. In early September, after making a public records request, he was informed that he would need to pay a fee of $856 to view the documents he had requested. He opted instead to view the documents at Assistant City-Parish Attorney Mike Hebert’s office.
Megan Wyatt at The Acadiana Advocate likewise made a request first to obtain records and then, after invoiced for $26, opted to view the documents in person instead, but was still told she had to pay the original invoice, according to the suit.
The suit also quotes comments Guillory made during his weekly live show on KPEL, "Lafayette Live." When asked about the new policy charging for public records, Guillory stated that "I wish every media outlet had to pay $100 a page. You put me on the record with that."
Guillory faced blowback from several local media outlets over those comments.
"Inflation is rising, but not as fast as the price of transparency in Lafayette," Mader wrote at The Current.
"Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory, fond of saying his administration is transparent, recently enacted a $1 per page fee for the news media and public to obtain public records via email," Claire Taylor wrote at The Acadiana Advocate.
Andrew Capps at The Daily Advertiser wrote the new LCG policy "appears to run afoul of Lafayette’s Home Rule Charter, which requires council action to 'regulate the rate or other charges for service by (LCG).'”
The lawsuit also points out the apparent violation of the Lafayette Home Rule Charter.
This is a developing story. More will be added as comments and details come in.