Terry Mutchler

Terry Mutchler is an experienced trial attorney and former award-winning AP journalist appointed by Gov. Ed Rendell to create Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records, enforcing the state’s Right to Know Law. She created the nation’s first Transparency Law Practice serving multi-national corporations, pharmaceuticals, energy and media companies and is widely respected as a national leader in this growing area of law.

In her seven-year term as founding Executive Director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records, Mutchler built the Office from scratch into a $2.1 Million operation with 15 staff. She wrote policies and procedures used today to govern record release for the more than 10,000 units of state and local government subject to this open-government law. Prior to her six-year appointment at the OOR, Terry worked in the media law group and appellate practice group of a major Chicago law firm. Focused on privacy issues, Mutchler clerked for both the Supreme Court of Illinois and the Executive Office of the President of the United States during the Clinton Administration. She was appointed as Illinois’ first Public Access Counselor, enforcing that state’s sunshine laws, and a senior advisor to the Attorney General. While at the Office of Open Records, Mutchler testified before Congress, advised state legislators and consulted with journalists, policy makers and even an international pool of judges seeking to duplicate the “Pennsylvania Model” of open government in their jurisdictions.

Before becoming an attorney, Mutchler was an investigative reporter for The Associated Press, becoming the first woman to be appointed AP Bureau Chief and Statehouse Correspondent in Springfield, Illinois and also serving as AP Bureau Chief in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Juneau, Alaska. Before that, she was a reporter in Pennsylvania and won several Keystone Awards, Pennsylvania’s top honor for reporting.

A sought-after speaker, Mutchler has delivered more than 1,500 speeches and training sessions to government officials, businesses, members of the media and citizens on transparency issues. Terry serves as liaison to state and federal officials helping to find non-litigation solutions to complex problems.  She handles requests for public records, appeals before the Office of Open Records and records litigation matters. In 2016, Mutchler published her first book, Under This Beautiful Dome: A Senator, A Journalist and the Politics of Gay Love in America. For her memoir and her work at OOR, she has been interviewed by a number of national news outlets, including The Rachel Maddow Show, National Public Radio, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Thomson Reuters, the AP, Slate, Politico, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Common Cause awarded Mutchler the 2016 Bob Edgar Public Service Achievement Award for “outstanding contribution to transparency in government and integrity for her force of imagination, initiative and perseverance.

Mutchler received her B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University and J.D. from the John Marshall School of Law in Chicago. She was a Bohnett Fellow for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Terry Mutchler’s hands-on experience in FOIA and cases involving access to state-specific public records and data has resulted in significant wins for a wide array of clients:

  • Obtained in less than seven days a copy of a report that had been denied by Department of Transportation and which was delayed on appeal for more than a Year.
  • Reduced a copy fee from $15,000 to $23.10 for an organization that requested a database of records in Florida under FOIA.
  • Designed Written PROTOCOLS for companies to ensure a best-practices and a unified approach when submitting corporate records to government entities.
  • Successfully protected a state RFP submission from being released to a competitor when the Competitor Challenged the Contract Award.
  • Helped a Health-Care Insurer obtain records related to a previously awarded contract, including emails related to the contract.