The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press as well as a dozen other news media sues Governor Glenn Youngkin in Richmond Circuit Court for refusing to deliver records related to their administration’s email inquiry line parents and others to point out the so-called “divisive” concepts taught in schools.

The news organizations are asking the court to order the administration to turn over the records – and to pay the coalition’s costs, including attorneys’ fees.

“Transparency is a fundamental part of government,” said Kris Worrell, editor of Virginia Media, which includes The Pilot and Daily Press. “The Virginian-Pilot, along with our media partners, believe the public has a right to know what is being said on Governor Youngkin’s tip line. We will fight vigorously for the access to information that taxpayers deserve.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Washington, DC attorney Charles D. Tobin, states that media organizations individually submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the governor’s office to have emails sent to the whistleblower line.

But their requests were denied, the lawsuit says, on the grounds that the emails were “working papers and correspondence from the governor’s office” and were considered exempt from FOIA disclosure requirements under the exemption from working documents.

The lawsuit argues that the emails sent to the whistleblower line “are not correspondence from the governor’s office and therefore do not qualify for the working papers exemption.”

These emails, according to the lawsuit, “are public records under the FOIA, are not exempt from disclosure, and must be disclosed.”

In a statement to The Pilot on Tuesday, the governor’s office stood by its decision to withhold the emails.

“When a constituent writes to the governor, he treats that communication as confidential and will not share the contents with the public,” a spokesperson for Youngkin wrote. “There is an expectation of confidentiality which he takes very seriously.”

The coalition includes the Tribune Publishing Company, which owns and The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press; Associated Press, Axios Media, Cable News Network, The Daily Dot, Gannett Satellite Information Network, Gray Media Group, National Public Radio, NBCUniversal Media, Tegna, Scripps Media, Sinclair Broadcast Group and WP Company (The Washington Post).

News of the whistleblower line, [email protected], surfaced in January about by Governor’s Order aimed at allowing parents to remove children from school mask mandates. Youngkin later mentioned it during a radio talk show appearance while discussing his opposition to critical race theory and urged parents to report any instances of “intrinsically conflicting” teaching methods. in their schools.

“Practices like teaching that one group is inherently privileged and another is victimized…those are the kinds of teaching practices that exist in our schools and we’re going to bring them out,” Youngkin said at the time.

The whistleblower line has made waves nationwide, with a mix of celebrities, activists, Democratic politicians and teachers’ associations opposing it.

Youngkin’s administration, meanwhile, defended the whistleblower line as “a resource for parents, teachers and students to relay any questions or concerns.”

Katie King, [email protected], 757-835-1487