NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU of Louisiana released the following statement in response to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s decision to sue a reporter from The Advocate over a public-records request. Landry’s office initially told the reporter, Andrea Gallo, that she’d receive documents regarding sexual complaints against a member of Landry’s office following the investigation. Instead, Landry’s lawyers later replied that they would not release the documents publicly and sued Gallo over the request. The statement should be attributed to ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Alanah Odoms.
“We are shocked and confused by Attorney General Jeff Landry’s decision to sue a reporter at The Advocate over a public-records request. This is a reckless and brazen attack on the press and a reporter who is simply trying to ensure our community members remain informed and have fair access to information concerning the conduct of our public officials. This is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in Louisiana.
Democracy depends on the public’s right to know what its government is doing, so it can hold officials accountable. Instead of being transparent with our community members regarding sexual harassment complaints against Pat Magee, the head of his office’s criminal division, Landry is withholding this information and retaliating against a journalist exercising her constitutional right to report on matters of public concern. He is using his position and power—along with taxpayer dollars—to hide the truth about inappropriate and unlawful conduct occurring within his office. And furthermore, he is seeking to punish and silence a reporter for requesting transparency. The ACLU of Louisiana condemns this lawsuit and Landry’s office's unnecessary attempt to obstruct the flow of public information. We must dismantle the barriers to public access they are putting up.”