Is the Motive for Seeking Disclosure In Right to Know Act Cases Relevant ?
In Right to Know Act (RTKA) cases, the requester's motives for seeking disclosure are irrelevant, Current Status, Inc. v. Hykel, and "a citizen may not be denied access to public records because of lack of personal interest or for a lack of a 'legitimate' purpose." Envirotest Partners, 664 A.2d at 212.
In fact, a requester need not provide any reason for demanding to inspect a public record.
Section 2 of the RTKA expressly states: "A written request need not include any explanation of the requester's reason for requesting or intended use of the records." 65 P.S. 66.2.
A party which asserts a right to disclosure of documents pursuant to the RTKA must establish that the requested documents were generated or kept by an agency and that they constitute "public records." Safety, Agriculture, Villages and Environment, Inc. v. Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, 819 A.2d 1235 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2003).
The fact that a record is merely in the possession of an agency does not create the presumption that the record is a "public record" subject to disclosure.
Rather, the party seeking access bears the burden of establishing that the requested material bears the characteristics of a public record. LaValle v. Office of General Counsel, 564 Pa. 482, 769 A.2d 449 (2001).