Basalt resident sued by town after CORA request looks to judge for answers

By The Aspen Times:  A Basalt woman who was sued by the town of Basalt after she filed a Colorado Open Records Act request this spring is urging a judge to dig for the “real and truthful reason” the town filed the lawsuit.

The resident, Mary Kenyon, asked the judge to listen to a tape of an April 26 closed session of the Town Council and Town Attorney Tom Smith where the prospect of litigation was discussed. She claimed in the motion filed in Eagle County District Court that the judge will discover the real reason for the lawsuit was to “make an example of the defendant” and to prevent having to pay attorney’s fees if Kenyon prevailed in the dispute.

The town of Basalt filed the lawsuit April 29 to seek a declaratory judgment on whether Town Clerk Pam Schilling was required to turn over text messages from Mayor Jacque Whitsitt that were exchanged prior to, during and after the April 5 town election. Kenyon filed an Open Records Act request seeking the texts from both Schilling and Whitsitt.

The town eventually responded that both Schilling and Whitsitt erased the texts and that all that could be retrieved was a log showing the number and times of the texts. The log shows Schilling and Whitsitt exchanged 120 texts between March 15 and April 12. Whitsitt said previously through Smith that the texts were about “mechanics of the election” such as rules pertaining to poll-watchers.

Kenyon contends there were flaws in the way the election was run. She requested the texts as part of a fact-finding mission.

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