When Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards returned to the University of North Carolina (UNC) to establish a poverty think tank in 2005, his salary was a matter of public record. But what the press really wanted to know was how many Tar Heel athletics tickets did he try to get?
In 2007, the Associated Press (AP) requested copies of correspondence between Edwards and UNC under the state public records law. The university released roughly two dozen e-mails, one of which referred to a “ticket wish list” Edwards planned to send to the school.
When the AP pressed for details, the university refused, citing an exemption from the state records law for documents relating to the employment application process, and saying only that Edwards did not receive any tickets, or promises of tickets, as part of his university employment. The Edwards campaign also refused to release the wish list.
Final note: Remember, public employers may have to fork over employment records. Be sure to have an attorney review the request so you don’t release information not covered by the law.