Massachusetts is one of only two states where Governor claims office is exempt

NEEDHAM – Monday, March 20, 2017 – In an email to supporters, Democrat Jay Gonzalez today announced his plan to voluntarily subject the Governor’s office to the state’s public records laws if elected. Gonzalez also committed to filing legislation that would legally require the Governor’s office to respond to public records requests.

“Access to government records, documents and meetings allow the public and the media to more fully understand the work of government and how and why our elected leaders make the decisions they do,” Gonzalez said. “Our public records law invites the public to participate fully in our democratic institutions, promoting openness and transparency and engagement for all, not just the few, the powerful and the insiders. If I am elected Governor, I will voluntarily comply with the state’s public records laws, and I will file legislation to broaden the scope of those laws and end the Governor’s office exemption once and for all.”

Around the country, public officials at every level are making meaningful efforts to make government more open and accessible and responsive. Massachusetts is one of only two states left in the country in which the governor’s office claims that it is exempt from public records laws. Just last week, the other state, Michigan, introduced legislation to make their state government more transparent.

Massachusetts has been rated one of the worst states in the country for public records access.  The Center for Public Integrity gave Massachusetts an F in this category in its “State Integrity Scorecard” in both 2012 and 2015.  Last year, the state Legislature enacted much-needed public records reforms, the first update since the law was passed back in 1973.  While it made many improvements to the law, it did not subject the Governor’s office to the law.

The announcement today from Gonzalez comes on the heels of last week’s 12th annual “Sunshine Week,” a national celebration of transparency and openness in government.

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