One of my key issues is government transparency because without access to information, we have no way to hold our government employees accountable. Without transparency, there is no accountability, and without accountability, taxpayers are… screwed.
The NH Constitution, uniquely among most states, has an article specifically on its citizens’ Right to Know. It states:
Art. 8. Accountability of Magistrates and Officers; Public’s Right to Know. All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them. Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.
Open. Accessible. Accountable. And responsive. AT ALL TIMES.
This is what I stand for!
For too long, New Hampshire has been moving away from these key protections. The AG’s office now expends meaningful resources on redacting information–imagine if we used those resources to be open, accessible, accountable and responsive instead!
This week alone, the Union Leader has featured several articles outlining situations where local officials are saying we don’t have a "Right to Know."
There’s this one, about the Laurie List, which names 171 police officers who have been found to have credibility issues such as: using excessive force, lying under testimony, committing sexual harassment, and falsifying reports.
Mind you, we’re not even talking about disciplining these people… we are simply asking to KNOW WHO IS ON THE LIST. Instead of providing the information to the Union Leader and the NH-ACLU in response to their RTK filings, the AG’s office sent a response with all the names blacked out. Is this what we want in the Granite State?
To make matters worse, Senior Assistant Attorney General Francis Fredericks said: "Disclosure would amount to an invasion of the officers’ privacy." Unacceptable! The ACLU said this position creates special treatment for police officers:
“The public has a right to know whether officers serving them have engaged in conduct that impacts their credibility or truthfulness. As the New Hampshire Supreme Court has repeatedly explained, the public interest in disclosure is great when it will expose potential government misconduct."
In this one, a local police department refused to let a reporter inspect documents for free, instead insisting he pay copying fees to see the files. At a dollar a pop/page in some jurisdictions, this is cost prohibitive for many Granite Staters, and is designed to have a chilling effect. It is designed to stop you (and the press) from getting the information you seek. Again, unacceptable!
I serve as a board member at Right to Know NH. I talk the talk, AND I walk the walk. This volunteer organization worked on several good bills that were introduced this past legislative session, including an Ombudsman Bill that makes it easier for you to get access to information.
As your Senator, I will push through these kinds of protections. I will also work to rollback the troubling trend towards hiding behind illegitimate excuses. And I will always work to ensure your government remains open, accessible, accountable, and responsive to YOU.
Please support me next Tuesday, September 11th in the Republican primary. I ask for your vote on November 6th.