OPINION

Attorney General issues informal opinion on Iowa Public Radio questions

Question raised whether radio operation is subject to Iowa Public Meeting, Open Records laws

Iowa Public Radio producer/announcer Dennis Reese read news briefs between programs at public radio's studio in Iowa Cit
Iowa Public Radio producer/announcer Dennis Reese read news briefs between programs at public radio's studio in Iowa City on Friday, March 25, 2011. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

The intent of Iowa Public Radio to operate consistent with Iowa Public Records and Open Meetings Laws will be written into the organization's operating agreement when that document is renewed in July, according to state officials.

Some questions recently were raised about whether Iowa Public Radio is a government entity that is subject to Open Meetings and Public Records laws. The attorney representing the organization argued that despite the function it serves in the management of state-owned assets and its ties to the state Board of Regents, IPR is not a "governmental body" in the eyes of the law. But, he added, the organization has a commitment to transparency and generally allows the public to attend meetings and its information should be as open to public inspection as possible.

The Iowa Attorney General's Office on Thursday issued an informal opinion in the matter, in response to a state lawmaker who requested it. The letter was sent to state Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, and to several members of the media.

Statements recently added to the Iowa Public Radio website say IPR will operate prospectively consistent with Public Records and Open Meetings laws, and that position will be incorporated into the IPR operating agreement when it is renewed in July, according to the letter from the Attorney General's Office.In view of those posted statements, and because that intent will be included in the operating agreement that will go to the board in July, "for all intents and purposes it appears that IPR is now operating subject to the Public Records and Open Meetings laws," according to the informal opinion written by Julie Pottorff, deputy attorney general.

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