Basalt Election Clerk sues over election-related open records request
The town of Basalt is taking a resident to court because she filed a request to see correspondence between the mayor and the town’s top election official.
The lawsuit is the latest in continuing concerns about the April election. It’s titled Pamela Schilling, Town Clerk, versus resident Mary Kenyon. It requests clarification from Eagle County District Court on whether already deleted text messages are subject to an open records request filed in April by Kenyon.
In an email on Monday, town attorney Tom Smith said it’s standard procedure to name the person who made an open records request if a municipal government needs direction from a judge. Smith said he is worried Basalt will accidentally not follow the rules and get stuck with legal fees.
Kenyon said that’s not her understanding of the lawsuit. She’s been advised by the District Court to hire an attorney in preparation for filing a formal response. Kenyon says Basalt officials are sending a strong message with the civil case.
“They’re telling the people in the town of Basalt ‘don’t you dare challenge us; we’re going to drag you into court.’”
Kenyon said the missing text messages are necessary for her to formally ask a district court judge to look into whether the Basalt spring election was improperly carried out by Town Clerk Pam Schilling. She contends that may have allowed mayoral incumbent Jacque Whitsitt an unfair advantage. Whitsitt was ultimately was re-elected.
Kenyon has also asked the district attorney’s office to look into misdemeanor charges against the town of Basalt for not yet releasing the text messages between Schilling and Whitsitt. The DA’s office has so far decided there weren’t criminal violations over how the election itself was handled.