Court considers who should lead Pa. open records office

In this file photo, former Open Records director Erik Arneson arrives for a hearing before Commonwealth Court on March 11. The court has ordered Arneson returned to the job with backpay and benefits.
In this file photo, former Open Records director Erik Arneson arrives for a hearing before Commonwealth Court on March 11. The court has ordered Arneson returned to the job with backpay and benefits.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Lawyers for the man fired in January after just days as head of Pennsylvania’s open records office say it’s clear that lawmakers intended the job to be independent of the governor who wants to replace him.

Commonwealth Court heard 90 minutes of argument Wednesday in the lawsuit brought by Erik Arneson, a longtime Republican Senate aide who has sued Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to retain the position.

The attorney general’s office, arguing for Wolf, told the seven-judge panel that decades of state court precedent say the firing was within Wolf’s authority.

The judges raised questions about how the case might affect other positions in state government, and pressed Arneson’s lawyers about how they can divine the intent of the 2009 law that established the job and its six-year term.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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