Open Government Emails to Fight Government Corruption [OPINION]
A committee in the South Dakota Legislature decided this week that they -- and anybody in government -- can keep their email secret.
This continues our state's long history of protecting secrecy to the detriment of the public.
The legislation in question would have removed "correspondence" from the list of items the government can keep from the people who pay to collect them -- that being you. The House State Affairs Committee voted 5-2 to kill the measure.
Despite all the conversation about transparency in government, of scandals left to fester in darkness, of a public uprising that led to a voter-approved good-government measure, that was subsequently gutted by lawmakers. Despite all that, they still don’t have any inkling that electronic communication in our name must be open.
There is simply no good reason for protecting public communication in this way. There is no expectation of privacy when communicating with an elected representative. None.
Confidentiality is for the police and your lawyer and your doctor and your therapist. Not your legislator or your career bureaucrat.
It’s simply cover for the continued paternalism of the South Dakota Legislature and state government in general. The idea that you don’t need to know, that they know what’s best for us. Balderdash.
Opening the records of government, the actions of government is essential to restoring faith in government.
What the House State Affairs Committee is saying is that it’s OK for elected representatives to run government in secret. That’s it -- plain and simple.
Government emails are open record in most states in this country.
There is no right to privacy for legislators or county commissioners or mayors when using public email. If you want to talk to your kids about what they're doing after school or your spouse about dinner plans – get a Gmail Account. They’re free.
You want to keep it secret, don’t use the Dot Gov.
The greatest weapon against corruption is the light of day.
Open the emails.
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