Jul 11, 2022 - News

Public records case against Columbus Zoo dismissed

Illustration of a tiger-striped gavel

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The construction company that sued the Columbus Zoo and argued in Ohio Supreme Court that zoo records should be released to the public has dropped its case.

Why it matters: A successful lawsuit would have made new documents available about zoo operations and set a transparency precedent for taxpayer-supported nonprofits in Ohio.

The latest: Plaintiff Meade Construction and the zoo settled outside of court, which granted the business' request to dismiss the case Friday.

Catch up quick: A 2021 forensic audit detailing misspending by former zoo officials suggested a quid pro quo relationship between Meade and former zoo president and CEO Tom Stalf, including over-billing.

  • Meade sued in April after the zoo denied a public records request from the company that hoped to "shine a light" on the "false allegations," according to a statement.

The other side: Zoo leaders called the lawsuit a distraction in an April statement.

  • They say the nonprofit has followed Ohio law — which only requires release of documents related to a Franklin County property tax levy that funds 20% of its $92 million yearly budget and pays for animal care.

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