Washington state legislators are subject to the state’s public records law
The Supreme Court of Washington ruled Thursday that the state’s “strongly worded mandate for broad disclosure” also applies to the legislature. The decision is a huge win for government access and accountability advocates, including the news media. The case was brought by multiple news organizations, including the Associated Press, The Spokesman-Review, and the Seattle Times.
Read more in The Spokesman-Review.
NY Attorney General takes Trump administration to court over FOIA request
Adding to its growing list of court battles against the current President, the office of the New York Attorney General filed complaints this week against the U.S. Department of Interior and the White House Office of Management and Budget for their failures to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests. The requests asked for materials related to President Trump’s issuance of multiple executive orders, including one that mandated the two regulations be cut for every one introduced.
Read more in the Times Union.
Former Atlanta aide found guilty of violating state law
On Thursday, a jury found Jenna Garland, one-time press secretary to former Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed, guilty of violations to the state public records law, a rare rebuke to public officials who flaunt their legal responsibility to uphold an open government for the public.
According to the case, Garland instructed other employees to “drag this out as long as possible” and “provide information in the most confusing format available” in order to prevent the release of documents she thought might embarrass or damage the image of the mayor.
Read more in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
CPI receives heavily-redacted documents on Trump administration decision to halt Ukranian aid
In response to a FOIA request for materials related to the decision to halt military aid to Ukraine, currently the subject of impeachment proceeding against the sitting U.S. president, the Center for Public Integrity has received more than a hundred, heavily-redacted pages.
“We are deeply disappointed that the public won’t have access to this important information at the heart of the impeachment process. But we will continue to fight to ensure that the documents see the light of day,” said Public Integrity’s chief executive officer, Susan Smith Richardson.
Read more on the Center for Public Integrity.
Emails reveal fatal threat to the Florida panther
John Wrublik, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, warned earlier this year that a highway between the state’s Polk and Collier counties, which has already been approved by Florida officials, could cause the ultimate elimination of the Florida panther.
Though the federal agency still must conduct a formal assessment, wildlife advocates are concerned about the effect the road will have on the species, and if the official assessment finds that the species will be threatened by the parkway, additional legal battles are likely to follow.
“It was a very honest appraisal,” Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, which filed the request resulting in the emails, told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s impossible for them to run a highway through that area and not have it be a disaster for the panther.”
Read more in The Tampa Bay Times.
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Image via New York AG