Sinclair Television, the parent company of KECI, filed suit against the city of Missoula in District Court this month, claiming it violated the station’s right to know by withholding documents related to the acquisition of Mountain Water.
Sinclair, which purchased the station last year, is represented by Missoula attorney Quentin Rhoades. The case marks Rhoades’ second effort this year to access information on behalf of a client related to the Mountain Water case and its ensuing legal bills.
On Tuesday, Rhoades said Sinclair isn’t attempting to access documents protected by attorney-client privilege or attorney work product. Rather, he said, it’s seeking invoices representing the roughly $9.2 million in legal fees related to the case.
“There’s a lot of lawyers who work 20 or 30 years and don’t bill $9 million,” said Rhoades. “There’s no doubt it was a complicated case, but at some point, it goes beyond complicated. It’s public information. When the government pays a bill, it’s public information, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
City leaders have never said they were concealing the legal costs surrounding Mountain Water, and for much of the past few years, they have provided weekly updates to the running cost during City Council meetings.
But Rhoades said the public has a right to see the details behind those figures and the work the money paid for. He believes the public also should see correspondence between the city and its legal representation at Boone Karlberg and Perkins Coie.
Have to say, I agree with Sinclair on this one, the public does have a right to know.
H/T Missoula Current