Lee Digger, the newly announced Open Records Clerk, works at his desk at the state capitol in Bismarck.

Bismarck — Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced a new position that was recently filled at the State Capitol, the Open Records Request Clerk.

The position, according to the Attorney General’s office, is meant to alleviate the workload on many state employees who are overburdened with open records requests, specifically, from Fargo Forum Reporter, Rob Port.

“Our records indicate Mr. Port has made over 15,000 requests, some of which were hundreds of pages long,” said a spokesperson. “If you printed each of those records out one-by-one and put them in a straight line, they’d circumference the earth over three times.”

According to officials, many of the open record requests were digital, but the sheer amount of requests prompted the Attorney General’s office to create the new position.

“We’re really pleased that we quickly filled this position. Our newest employee, Lee Digger, is basically Mr. Port’s employee. Each day, he clocks into work and sits at his desk and waits for Mr. Port to either call him directly or email him to fill a records request. In fact, Mr. Digger only has two contacts in his phone and email; mine and Mr. Port’s,” explained Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. “We’re hoping this will streamline the process for everyone.”

Stenehjem also announced a few new policies regarding communication among staff, and a new proposal meant to help curb back paper trails.

A mock-up of the proposed employee lounge pool at the state capitol in Bismarck.

“We’re also encouraging every state employee to refrain from email and text messages to nip this problem head on. That creates on its own a unique problem, so we’re looking at adding a general recreational room with lounge pool for employees to meet at face-to-face. If seeing a bunch of state employees in bathing suits isn’t enough to deter reporters, I don’t know what will,” laughed Stenehjem.

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