Secretary of state hit with public records lawsuit

CARSON CITY – A national Republican organization on Monday sued Secretary of State Ross Miller for failing to turn over what it says are public records detailing his travel, cell phone information, compensation and public schedule.

The State Government Leadership Foundation, which is connected to the Washington, DC-based Republican State Leadership Committee, filed the lawsuit in Carson City District Court alleging that Miller has failed to comply with Nevada’s public records law.

Four separate public records requests were submitted by Timothy Baker on behalf of the foundation in March.

Matt Walter, managing director of communications and political affairs for the Republican State Leadership Committee, said Miller is stonewalling on a legitimate public records request.

“The secretary of state’s office is an agency at the nexus of public information and the public’s right to know,” he said. “His decision to stonewall all attempts to provide the information he is legally required to provide is hypocrisy.”

The failure to comply is especially disturbing given Miller’s efforts to shed more transparency on campaign finances, Walter said.

Miller’s public information officer, Catherine Lu, initially said the office would try to provide the documentation by April 1, but no information has been provided, the lawsuit said.

Lu said Monday the office has not seen the lawsuit and so cannot comment.

But she also said the office is working on fulfilling the records request.

“However, the request is very extensive – thousands of pages and requires many hours of staff work,” Lu said.

The foundation said it made the requests as part of a review of Senate Bill 49, which would enhance gift and campaign reporting by candidates and elected officials.

The bill, sought by Miller, is making its way through the Legislature.

“In order to better understand the bill and the claims made by the bill’s main proponent, SGLF decided to review the public documents related to Secretary Miller’s time in office,” the lawsuit said.

“What we’re finding is that Ross Miller is saying one thing and doing another,” Walter said.

The Republican State Leadership Committee recently launched a campaign attacking Miller for what it says is his acceptance of generous gifts and efforts to hide assets from the public.

The committee has launched a website, www.millershouseofcards.com, highlighting its criticisms.

Miller, in response to the campaign, said: “Nevadans are smart enough to understand that it is no coincidence that on the eve of potential passage of landmark transparency and ethics reform, a shadowy out of state group has attempted to politically smear me with completely unfounded attacks in an effort to derail our legislation.”

Miller is in his last term as secretary of state and has indicated he will run for attorney general in the 2014 election.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.