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Dangerous FOIA exemption ‘sneaked’ into Connecticut special session bill

12 Jun

A new exemption to Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act was “sneaked” into “implementer” legislation that will be considered in a special session of the Connecticut legislature today (Tuesday, June 12).

In dangerously broad language, it would make secret “all records” relating to deals the state makes in giving or loaning taxpayer dollars to private businesses. We don’t have to go back very far in Connecticut’s history to see how such arrangements can go wrong and why it’s important that taxpayers know when and how their money is being spent on non-government uses and whether it’s justified.

Here’s the exact language:

(27) All records obtained by a state agency or a quasi-public agency related to a request for assistance from a business or organization seeking to expand or relocate to this state, provided the disclosure of such records could adversely affect the financial interest of the state, the business or organization.

This is as outrageous an assault on the public’s right to know as one could imagine. Not only must it be rejected in its entirety, but we need to know and hold accountable whichever lawmaker and/or legislative leader drafted it and allowed it to be considered in a special session designed to handle emergencies. It’s fitting, I guess, that a proposal to keep the public’s business secret from the public would be proposed in such a secretive, underhanded manner.

UPDATE: At the urging of a coalition of Connecticut media organizations, the Malloy administration has asked the legislature to delete the proposed FOIA exemption from today’s special session.

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