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Gianforte Ruling Forces Release Of Documents

A Montana District Court has ordered Governor Greg Gianforte to produce documents he fought for two years to withhold, rejecting the Governor’s theory that he could withhold documents merely because they relate to his position as Governor.

First Judicial District Court Judge Kathy Seeley held that the Montana Constitution’s Right to Know Clause allows the public to view government deliberations and ordered the Governor to produce the documents for further review Plaintiff Jayson O’Neill brought suit last year after the Governor refused to release “Agency Bill Monitoring Forms,” which are believed to contain the Administration’s views of various bills making their way through the 2021 Legislature. Among other theories, the Governor claimed that he could shield everything — even the formatting of the documents — from public view under a “deliberative process privilege” or an “executive privilege.” He traced these privileges in briefing back to privileges enjoyed by English monarchs.

On Dec. 14, the court granted O’Neill’s motion for summary judgment, ordering the Governor to produce the requested materials for the Court’s review.

O’Neill is represented by Constance Van Kley and Rylee Sommers-Flanagan of Upper Seven Law and Raph Graybill of Graybill Law Firm, PC.

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