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Ordinary Coloradans must fight for access to records

Colorado's open records laws are supposed to keep government officials accountable, but getting documents can mean paying huge fees or becoming tangled in expensive and lengthy legal battles.

In some cases, the cost and difficulty of obtaining records is enough to drive citizens away. In other cases, officials use vague legal standards like "contrary to the public interest" to deny any access.

Critics, meanwhile, note that the same officials who decline requests may also be embarrassed when certain documents become public.

The CALL7 Investigators inspected scores of requests made under open records laws, confronted clerks with hidden cameras and interviewed citizens, officials and legal experts around Colorado.

When asked about their records policies, cities and agencies refused to be interviewed on camera. Throughout months of work, only two officials ever agreed to talk.

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