OPINION: Transparency is critical for elected officials
Published 7:24 am Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Now more than ever it is critical that the public continue to fight for transparency in our government.
More frequently we are seeing attempts by government officials to block information from the public, even though it is your right to access it.
In recent years we have seen numerous lawsuits against newspapers, radio stations, lawyers, individuals and various organizations in attempts to block public access to information.
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The recent passage of Senate Bill 151 serves as a stark example of the necessity of transparency in how our government operates. Without open records laws and access to information about government proceedings, the public would be left in the dark.
Prohibiting the public from accessing this information prohibits the people from participating in the lawmaking process.
As a newspaper and individual journalists, we stand firmly behind the state’s open records and open meetings laws and will continue to fight to preserve access to critical information about how our lawmakers and other government officials operate.
That is why we applaud Kentucky Attorney General Andy Besmear for his willingness to release his tax return documents and a recent call for all elected officials to do the same.
While these financial documents are personal on some level, we also believe they reveal vital information about our elected officials. Elected officials should be operating in such a manner that releasing this information would be of no great concern.
As Beshear noted in a statement released Monday, releasing these records will allow the public to know just who these elected officials are working for. Are they earning money from special interest groups? And how do those earning correlate with their positions on policy or votes for legislation changes?
A failure to release such information opens elected officials up to questions about what they have to hide.
Releasing tax return documents is just the start, though.
Secrecy and lack of transparency in government at all levels only serve the lawmakers, not those who will be most affected by the changes.
We must continue to advocate for and in some instance demand full disclosure by all public servants on all levels. It is only fair to the public, the voters and people they serve.
Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper’s editorial board. The board is comprised of publisher Michael Caldwell and managing editor Whitney Leggett. To inquire about a meeting with the board, contact Caldwell at 759-0095.