Did Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear Get Calls, Voicemails Regarding the Same-Sex Marriage Appeal?

When Gov. Steve Beshear announced that he would split with Attorney General Jack Conway and appeal a federal judge’s ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same sex marriage, he upset marriage-equality proponents, who took to Twitter. They encouraged followers to call the governor’s office at (502) 564-2611 and leave a message.

And so on. It’s not just this issue. Those with interest in influencing the governor often say to call this line.

Here is how people responded: On the day of the governor’s appeal announcement, the governor’s office says 196 people called in opposition to the appeal, while 35 called in support, either leaving messages or talking with a live person.

But the contents of many of these messages may never be heard.

The governor’s office says when calls like this come in to the number, they’re transferred to constituent services at extension 332. Any recordings or transcripts of those calls and messages would be public records and available to anyone. After the appeal was announced, WFPL filed the following open records request:

I’m writing to request access to or copies of any voicemail messages left on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 for the number (502) 564-2611 extension 332 and for any transcriptions or recordings of calls made to constituent services on March 4, 2014 regarding the Heyburn decision or same-sex marriage.

This is the response we received from a spokeswoman for the governor:

…we don’t have any voice recordings or transcripts of calls left on the message line. That line gets purged whenever it’s full, and my understanding is that it only holds a few dozen message before it has to be erased to begin accepting more calls. The calls are not permanently stored anywhere. We occasionally will keep a tally of the calls coming in, but it’s not a formal process.

The governor’s office also says no one wrote down the messages to give to the governor, though the tally was taken in this instance. 

“Whenever someone calls, all of those messages are listened to,” says spokeswoman Kerri Richardson, adding “Not every person in our office is going to hear every word of every message.”

Gabe Bullard

Gabe Bullard is the director of news and editorial strategy.

@gbullard

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