The state Office of Open Records says reports of fund-raising for next month's Democratic National Convention need to be made public sooner, not later.
The office rejected arguments by the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID), the agency that guaranteed a $15 million line of credit for the convention's host committee. As part of that deal, the host committee promised to file quarterly fund-raising reports to PAID, complete with donor names, amounts, and spending.
But after filing its first such report in April, the host committee refused to make the contents public. The committee aims to raise $64 million to host the Democrats' convention from July 25 to 28 at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Inquirer and freelance writer Dustin Slaughter requested the reports through the state Right to Know Act. PAID denied the requests, deferring to the host committee. That committee, known as PHL 2016, asserted the reports "constitute or reveal a trade secret or confidential proprietary information," PAID open-records officer Paul Deegan wrote in denying the request.
The open-records office ruled in Slaughter's favor Tuesday. The Inquirer appeal is pending.
"PHL 2016 has not met its burden of proof, and the records are subject to public access," Kyle Applegate, a state appeals officer, wrote in the decision, which gave PAID 30 days to disclose the reports.
Officials at PAID, which also has 30 days to appeal in court, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Host committee spokeswoman Anna Adams-Sarthou said via email, "We are evaluating our options and will comply within the requisite time frame."
Tuesday's ruling said the committee had not shown how making the reports public would likely cause any "substantial competitive injury." The ruling noted that the committee's "sole function ceases to exist" after the convention.
In a meeting with Inquirer editors last week, PHL 2016 chief executive Kevin Washo said the committee would disclose its donors 60 days after the convention, as federal law requires.