Ky. high court declines to hear appeal from university foundation over privacy

KENTUCKY— The state’s highest court has decided not to hear an appeal by theUniversity of Louisville Foundation of two lower court rulings that found theprivate foundation must abide by the state’s freedom of informationlaws.By refusing to hear the case on May 12, the Kentucky Supreme Courtresolved a three-year-long legal battle over whether the state Open Records andOpen Meetings Act applies to the private fund-raising arm of the publicuniversity.The foundation, which receives and invests millions ofdollars in donations to the university, has argued that privacy concerns protectuniversity investments and allows the foundation to shield donors’ identities. But the Louisville Courier-Journal, which filed the lawsuit, hasargued that because the foundation is so closely tied to the university, thepublic has a right to know how the foundation uses its money, who donates moneyand what conditions donors place on their gifts. “The big deal and themonumental victory is the declaration by the courts of the commonwealth that theUniversity of Louisville Foundation is a public agency and all of its recordsare accessible to the public unless they fall within one of the narrowexemptions of the open-records act,” Kenyon Meyer, a lawyer for theCourier-Journal, told the newspaper.Two issues are left unresolved.A state district court is expected to determine under what conditions theidentities of corporate and foundation donors can be made public. A stateappeals court is reviewing a lower court’s ruling that the foundation mustdisclose the identities of all donors except 62 who requested anonymity.

Cape Publications, Inc. v. The University of Louisville Foundation, Inc., Action No. 01-CI-003349 (Jefferson Cir. Ct. Div. 9 filed Sept. 18, 2003), aff’d in part, rev’d in part, and remanded, 2003 WL 22748265, No. 2002-CA-001590-MR (Ky. Ct. App. November 21, 2003)

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