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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Washington Gov Denies Access to...well...you just can't make this stuff up

From the Department of Unintentional Irony:

Gov. Chris Gregoire has refused to reveal the identities of some people who weren't picked for seats on the state's new "Sunshine Committee."

Gregoire, responding to an Associated Press public records request, has kept secret several resumes, letters and e-mail exchanges from unsuccessful applicants to the committee.

In her reply, the Democratic governor cited an exemption to public records law that says applications for public employment can be kept secret.

Open government experts scoffed at that reasoning, pointing out that compensation for Sunshine Committee service is limited to travel reimbursements that several members don't actually qualify for.

"That doesn't make them employees of the state," said Toby Nixon, acting president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and a former state legislator.

"I don't think what the governor is doing in terms of withholding these documents, claiming they are applications for employment, is right at all," Nixon said. "And I think that the word ironic is a very good word."

But Melynda Campbell, a legal assistant in Gregoire's legal office, said the administration considers every person appointed to a board or commission by the governor to be a public employee under the Public Records Act exemption.

Under that reasoning, Campbell said, people who ask that they be appointed to a panel such as the Sunshine Committee must have their identities kept secret.

More here.

Well, if the idea is to illustrate the need for someone to form a committee to study the sunshine laws, my hat's off to 'em.


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