Court ruling could threaten government transparency, AP’s Schelzig reports

In Advocacy on November 11, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Erik Schelzig, a longtime government watchdog with the Associated Press, is reporting the angst of transparency advocates regarding a Tennessee higher court ruling that could have ripple affects related to open government across the state.

Schelzig reported, “The court upheld a lower court’s ruling that then-Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration was justified in denying the release of records on the basis that they were part of the ‘deliberative process,’ about how to deal with demonstrators encamped in the state Capitol in 2005 to protest cuts to TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program,” (Nashville Tennessean, Nov. 10, 2013).

He added that the ruling “endorsed the argument that ‘advice high governmental officials receive be protected from disclosure’ because those officials need to be able to speak freely and confidentially with trusted advisers.”

One open government advocate called the ruling “an assault on open government.” The report also includes statements from Tennessee Press Association attorney Rick Hollow, TPA public policy director Frank Gibson and others who expressed concerns over how far the courts might extend  or interpret the ruling in the future by invoking a “deliberative process privilege.”

Tennessee newspapers, open government advocates and watchdog groups need to begin speaking out about this new twist on government transparency in order to stave off future loose interpretations of this ruling that could be used to further conceal the people’s business from the people of Tennessee.

  1. Anything and everything discussed will part of a deliberative process–behind closed doors. And the county attorney will defend it, no matter what! He gets paid to protect those hiding the records and is usually the one giving advice how to hide them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: