Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, has proposed that government officials be allowed to deny public records requests that are considered “unduly burdensome or harassing.” He tells us that anyone who thought they were unfairly denied a public record could sue to get it. I would suggest that Kavanagh become better acquainted with the high costs of legal counsel and the financial difficulties facing the average taxpayer.
For three years, I have been trying to obtain a copy of the investigator’s report from the Arizona Corporation Commission filed against an owner of a mortgage company who scammed myself and others for more than $200,000. The ACC cites ARS 44-2042 in determining the report is “confidential.” However, the law authorizes the commission or the director to disclose the names, information or documents as not contrary to the public interest.
From the time in October 2014, we were informed by the ACC that we would not be provided with a copy of the investigator’s report nor would we be told the reason no legal action would be taken against the respondent, my questions have yet to be answered:
Why does the ACC refuse to exercise its authority to make the report public?
What public interest, specifically, is being served to keep the report “confidential”’?
On June 27, 2016, Matt Gress, policy advisor to Commissioner Andy Tobin, stated that, “As you noted, the Commission could vote to make any or all of the investigative file public; however, Commissioner Tobin has serious concerns about the impact that release could have on the investigative abilities of the securities division moving forward.”
I fail to understand how making the report public could possibly have a negative impact on the investigative abilities of the securities division, and certainly no more than what the ACC itself has done to cast a negative light on the agency on a frequent basis.
At their swearing-in ceremony ACC Director Ted Vogt said he wants to make the commission more constituent-friendly, and Chairman Tom Forese noted the “significant criticism” the commission has encountered. Perhaps they both would now take a close look at how many complaints were not investigated and how many times “confidentiality” was used as an excuse to keep people in the dark.
Open government is the governing doctrine, which holds that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight.
I would suggest that our politicians and policy makers end their annual assaults on the people’s right to know and rid us of policies and laws which serve only to silence our voices, to suppress and steal our votes, to stifle dissent, to discourage public protest, and to discard our complaints.
Secrecy and lack of transparency sow discontentment and distrust.
James Kimes, Prescott Valley