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Ethics/Government TransparencyWatch

Are the Legislators for the People or for the Governor?

Joey McCutchen, Attorney and co-founder of Arkansas Transparency In Government Group, joins Conduit News to talk specifics about HB1003, an act to amend the Freedom of Information Act of 1967. Governor Sanders, sponsors, and supporters of this piece of legislation say the primary reason for this urgent need to change our FOI law is for the safety and security of the Governor and her family, but there are many people who are skeptical and question why issues such as the deliberative process, attorneys fees, and retroactivity need to be included.


Joey McCutchen:

They act like it’s a foregone conclusion that this thing is going to sail right through. I’m not sure that’s the case because I think the people are going to revolt. I think the people are going to protest. And I think legislators need to understand what’s in this bill. If they have any questions, I’m happy to tell them.

Maybe they should go to the Attorney General’s office and ask him what’s in this bill. They’ll get some advice on what’s in this bill and what it would do, because when they say that the deliberative process exemption would allow us to know recommendations in the state agency, that’s just false.

We’re not going to know any of that stuff. We’re going to have lawyers popping out of the woodwork who are going to be creating documents and they’re going to claim attorney-client privilege. And we’re going to have more corruption in Arkansas. We’ve seen our fair share of corruption in Arkansas. And you know what? For years, FOIA has been a large part – has exposed that corruption. So, the conservative people, the liberal people and freedom-loving people in this state need to step up. Patrick Henry said this, we got to guard this jewel. We guard with the jealous attention, the public liberty suspect, anyone who approaches that jewel. And Representative Ray… he’s  approaching that jewel.

Efficiency is another code word for ‘we’re going to weaken FOIA so that we can hide our public business.’

We’re going to go from a state with the strongest FOIA to the weakest FOIA overnight.

What this is, is weaponizing government against the people. It’s government by the government and for the government. You can’t defend what’s going on here. I mean, the deliberative process is what it’s designed to do…they don’t want us seeing the discussions so that they can have a free and robust discussion in the back halls of the Capitol and in these bureaucratic rooms that they create.

And the fingerprints of the Republicans in this legislative session will be all over it unless they come to their senses and realize are they for the people or for the governor?

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