After Three Days, Oklahoman Goes Back on Promise

State employees have new reason to worry about the release of their private information, as The Oklahoman today released every name and birth date in the Attorney General’s office.

The move came just three days after Oklahoman editor Ed Kelley promised the paper would not publicize state employee’s personal information. The disclosure happened as The Oklahoman filed an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief. That brief is now a public document available to anyone.

“It is a surprising move,” said OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley, “but not out of character for the folks in the OPUBCO tower. Their credibility is nil, and to promise one thing on Sunday and make a complete about-face on Wednesday is right in line with the paper known statewide as ‘The Daily Disappointment.’”

The Oklahoman’s move comes just days before OPEA goes to court in an injunction filed to keep state employee’s dates of birth private. The injunction was filed after the newspaper issued a blanket request for records of all 40,000 state employees. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Friday in Oklahoma County District Court.

Representative Randy Terrill and Senator Debbe Leftwich have filed legislation (SB 1753) that would prevent the mass distribution of all state employees’ birthdates.

“This is a matter of trust,” Terrill said in a press statement. “Making this information public to anyone, anywhere clearly violates The Oklahoman’s pledge. It doesn’t matter if this information is published in the actual newspaper or another document; it’s now been published and disseminated. The genie is out of the bottle and they can’t put it back in now.”

Terrill continued: “If The Oklahoman is willing to do this to every employee of one agency in direct violation of the paper’s promise, why would they not do it to other agencies and employees? This mass disclosure of employees’ birthdates is the exact reason the courts should issue a permanent injunction.”

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