Ohio University's top lawyer said last week that the university has asked the Ohio Attorney General's office for advice on whether certain records should be released to the public through a pending Athens NEWS records request.
John Biancamano, OU's general legal counsel, said in an email Tuesday that he expected to hear advice from both the Attorney General's Office and the Ohio Office of the Inspector General by the end of the week. The situation Biancamano is seeking clarification on relates to a likely investigation of the university by the OIG's office, which investigates possible wrongdoing on the part of state agencies.
Despite a month awaiting results of its records request, The Athens NEWS has not received copies of a list of OU-compiled records the news organization asked for, which the university provided to the OIG's office late last year. Similar records were provided to The NEWS previously in 2015 without any hesitation on the part of the university's legal office (which processes records requests).
The struggle for the records started when Biancamano told The NEWS on Jan. 5 the university would not provide records the university most recently provided the OIG’s office through November and December 2015 until the OIG’s office’s investigation is complete. However, in denying the records, Biancamano cited a section of Ohio Revised Code that The NEWS and at least two Ohio Public Records law experts interviewed do not believe applies to the university in this instance.
Typically, when a state agency denies a records request, the entity must cite Ohio law that specifically prohibits the release of such records.