Ga. attorney general believes university foundation violated open-meetings law

GEORGIA — State Attorney General Thurbert Baker toldthe University of Georgia Foundation that it violated the state’sopen-meetings law during its Feb. 13 meeting and gave the foundation 15 days topromise to comply with the law or face litigation.At its Feb. 13meeting, the foundation’s board of trustees entered into private session todiscuss issues related to the compensation of University of Georgia PresidentMichael Adams, citing the open-meetings law exemption that allows discussions ofemployees to take place behind closed doors. The foundation contributes money toAdams’ compensation.But according to Baker, Adams is not an employee ofthe University of Georgia Foundation. Baker sent a letter to Lynda Courts, thefoundation board’s chairwoman, after receiving ”a number of writtencomplaints regarding the Foundation’s decision to close portions of itsrecent executive committee and full board meetings,” the letterstates.While the University of Georgia Foundation is a private entity,it handles much of the charitable donations given to and investments raised forthe public University of Georgia system. As such, open-meetings advocates andthe Atlanta Journal-Constitution believe that the foundationboard’s meetings and records should be public.In November, Bakerinformed the foundation that because Adams is not employee of the foundation,discussions by the foundation about his compensation are not covered by theopen-meetings law exemption. He reiterated that position in the Feb. 26letter.”I think the attorney general has been very patient withthe foundation in trying to get them to comply with the law, but the letterreflects that his patience is running out,” said Tom Clyde, an attorneyfor the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The newspaper filed one of thecomplaints Baker’s office received.The foundation has 15 days toagree to comply with the open-meetings law. Also, the letter says the foundationmust ”cease and desist in asserting the