CHEYENNE (AP) — Wyoming’s state auditor is failing to provide records of payments to state vendors and related information in response to records requests, two groups allege in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
American Transparency and the Equality State Taxpayers Association sued State Auditor Cynthia Cloud in Laramie County District Court.
Burr Ridge, Illinois-based American Transparency, also known as openthebooks.com
, has compiled spending records for thousands of federal, state and local government agencies nationwide.
The group has been asking the State Auditor’s office for vendor data since 2015, but Cloud repeatedly said fulfilling the request would be too burdensome, according to the lawsuit.
The taxpayers association filed a similar request last winter. To date, the groups have received only a small fraction of the requested data despite paying the auditor’s office almost $8,000 to process the information, the lawsuit claims.
Cloud’s office has delivered some of the requested records but they’re being "slow walked," American Transparency CEO Adam Andrzejewski said in a statement.
"This lawsuit begins the process of enforcing basic transparency law in Wyoming. It’s time for citizens, journalists, watchdogs, politicians and their challengers to see exactly how state tax dollars are being spent," Andrzejewski said.
The Sheridan-based Equality State Taxpayers Association, led by rancher Bill Doenz, advocates for "a well-informed public dialogue on tax and public expenditure issues," according to its website.
Deputy State Auditor Sandra Urbanek declined comment, citing pending litigation. She provided a letter dated Monday from an assistant attorney general, Rebecca Zisch, to the groups’ attorney, Drake Hill, which promised to continue providing the records to the groups as long as doing so wouldn’t keep the auditor’s office from performing its duties.
One point of contention is whether the records contain information deemed confidential under state law. The records requested include Medicaid payments to beneficiaries and other information not releasable to the public under Wyoming law, Zisch wrote.