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Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis Is In Legal Trouble Again

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN FLAVELL
CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN FLAVELL

It’s been some time since Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was in the news, in part because Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) removed county clerks’ names from marriage licenses, mooting much of the controversy she started by refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Now, however, she and her anti-LGBT lawyers at the Liberty Counsel are facing new legal troubles for trying to hide details about their relationship.

The Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a D.C.-based non-profit, filed an Open Records Act request earlier this year hoping to uncover details about the nature of Davis’ relationship with the Liberty Counsel, including retainer agreements and other documents related to the nature of their attorney-client relationship and how it was authorized. At first, Davis and Liberty Counsel rejected the request simply because the request was emailed, but when CfA then faxed the request instead, they still balked. Though Davis turned over some documents, they refused many more, citing attorney-client privilege, attorney work product, and preliminary documents that are exempted under Kentucky law.

No, 100,000 People Did Not Gather In Peru To Support Kim Davis. Here’s Proof.LGBT by CREDIT: Twitter/@jmattbarber Embattled Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was no doubt the guest of honor at this…thinkprogress.orgThe dispute made its way to Attorney General Andy Beshear (D), who is empowered under Kentucky state law to rule on Open Records Act requests. Beshear’s office requested to review the documents in camera — in other words, privately without disclosing them — to verify Liberty Counsel’s claim that they were privileged. Kentucky legal precedent allows the attorney general to make such a request as part of his duties in overseeing the Open Records Act. But Liberty Counsel still refused to share the documents even in this capacity, leaving Beshear’s office no conclusion but to find Davis in violation of the law.

One of Liberty Counsel’s arguments against disclosure was that the attorney general was an “adverse” party because of the ongoing litigation between Davis and the Kentucky state government. In a lengthy footnote in its decision, Beshear’s office pointed out, “By Liberty Counsel’s own admission, the Attorney General is no part of that litigation. The attorney or attorneys reviewing any documents requested in the context of an open records appeal have nothing to do with such litigation.” It castigates the anti-LGBT organization, describing this argument as an “attempt to manufacture a conflict,” one that is “unfounded and does not provide any grounds for refusing a request.”

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Everything We Know About Kim Davis’ Alleged Secret Meeting With The PopeThe same day that Kim Davis’ lawyers at the Liberty Counsel had to admit that there was never a 100,000-person prayer…thinkprogress.orgCfA has already sent a new letter to the Liberty Counsel this week asking for the documents. “In light of this decision,” Executive Director Anne Weismann wrote, “please advise me immediately when CfA can expect to receive the records the attorney general found were withheld contrary to law.”

Liberty Counsel has not yet decided whether to challenge Beshear’s ruling. The group’s chairman, Mat Staver, insisted its representation of Davis has been pro bono, and claimed, “There’s nothing to reveal here.”

As for the rest of the ongoing litigation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is set to consider the original case against Davis later this month. She has argued that the complaints against her should all be dismissed because of the changes Bevin made to the certificates — along with the finding of contempt that put her in jail for a week last September.