Inside Publici

Published — June 7, 2012

Wachdog 6/7/12


Running from sunlight

My good friends at the Sunlight Foundation have made excellent use of a famous quote by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

But many a modern lawmaker seems to abhor that prescription. At the Center for Public Integrity, we’ve been busy tracking legislative action in the wake of our massive State Integrity Investigation—a data-driven corruption risk index for all 50 states. The good news is that so far at least six states have either enacted or introduced improved accountability measures.

But many other states have not. One of the 330 measures we looked at is an analysis of public records policies. We found that in state after state, the open records laws are riddled with exemptions and loopholes that impede the public’s right to know, rather than improve upon it. What are lawmakers hiding?

Such obfuscations only limit the public’s ability to know what’s going on—and who is quietly benefitting. Brandeis was right; more sunlight, please.

Until next week,

Bill Buzenberg
Executive Director

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