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Archie Ingersoll, Published December 24 2013

ND AG rules against NDSU Research Park in open records case

FARGO – The North Dakota attorney general has issued an opinion saying that a group associated with the North Dakota State University Research and Technology Park violated the state’s open records laws by denying a Grand Forks man’s request for a copy of a contract.

In May, C.T. Marhula, a former Grand Forks School Board member, asked for the contract, which had been mentioned at a research and technology park meeting. An attorney for NDSU Research Park Ventures LLC turned down Marhula’s request, asserting that the group is not subject to open record laws.

In an opinion released Monday, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem pointed out that under state law, Research Park Ventures is a renaissance fund organization that has an agreement with the city of Fargo.

Research Park Ventures was created in 2008 to raise money to fund renaissance zone projects in the city and to encourage the growth of North Dakota’s technology sector.

In this sense, Research Park Ventures performs governmental functions and is a public entity. Therefore, Stenehjem’s opinion said, the group must give Marhula a copy of the contract and, in the future, abide all open records and meetings laws.

Stenehjem said in his opinion that the research park must release the document within seven days.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Archie Ingersoll at (701) 451-5734