Senate President Peter Courtney and legislative employees didn’t improperly withhold public records requested by state Sen. Brian Boquist, a Marion County Circuit Court judge has determined.
The judge’s decision is the latest in an ongoing feud between the Dallas Republican and one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers that started during last year’s combative legislative session.
Last June, the Senate Conduct Committee received a complaint over remarks Boquist made during the session that were considered threatening. As Republicans threatened to walk out of the Capitol to prevent a vote on a greenhouse gas-reduction bill, Gov. Kate Brown said she would send state troopers to bring wayward legislators back.
Boquist said during a TV interview that Brown should “send bachelors and come heavily armed.” He also made remarks on the Senate floor directed at Courtney, saying “If you send the state police to get me, Hell's coming to visit you personally.”
His remarks drew formal complaints to the committee. In turn, Boquist complained that he had been denied due process. He also requested documents from the Office of Legislative Administration about the complaints against him and a related legislative probe.
In July, Boquist, representing himself, sued Courtney in Marion County Circuit Court alleging that documents were withheld by legislative staff, in violating the state’s public records law.
On Feb. 3 Marion County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Wren issued a legal opinion disagreeing with Boquist after holding hearings earlier. In the opinion, which will later be formalized in a judgement, Wren wrote that legislative employees were justified in redacting information identifying the person who filed a complaint against Boquist.
Wren wrote that disclosing the person’s name would “indeed have a chilling effect on other complainants coming forward to report inappropriate behavior or workplace conduct.” He said other documents were confidential because of attorney-client privilege.
Courtney’s office declined to comment and Boquist wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Last month, a federal judge dismissed a related lawsuit by Boquist that alleged that his civil rights had been violated by legislative leaders. He has appealed the ruling.
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