Letter: The Freedom of Information Act is paramount to governmental transparency.
To the Editor:
It was reported recently that State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff has refused to comply with multiple Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from the press, claiming the state’s constitution exempts him from the Freedom of Information Act.
A local news site is seeking emails relating to last winter’s school regionalization proposals. After submitting multiple bills supporting various forms of regionalization, majority legislators including Senator Duff took cover as public opposition exploded. Many Democratic legislators strongly supported regionalization in Hartford while placating their constituents, who had just empowered them in a landslide election but strongly opposed regionalization efforts.
Now local press is interested in Senator Duff’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering and emails that may shed light on his position on regionalization.
Sen. Duff’s refusal to comply with FOI requests comes at a time when a transparency battle is being waged in Hartford. After Ray Dalio committed to a $100 million donation to fund low-performing Connecticut schools with a matching state grant, Dalio Philanthropies asked that the partnership be exempt from disclosure rules, a request granted by the Democrat-controlled legislature and Gov. Lamont. However, approached by Republican legislators, Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, issued a formal opinion that the legislative leaders on the partnership’s board, as elected officials, are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Tong explicitly stated that If asked to provide documents related to partnership business, the elected officials must disclose them.
Notably, Sen. Duff’s Democratic colleagues on the governing board, Martin Looney and Joe Aresimowicz, agreed with Tong’s opinion.
The Freedom of Information Act is paramount to governmental transparency. We should expect our elected officials to act truthfully and transparently. We should expect them to live by the old adage; say what you do and do what you say.
Although his colleagues in legislative leadership have made it clear that they have a responsibility to make their documents accessible to the public, Sen. Duff apparently does not share this view. This provokes serious questions: Why does Sen. Duff consider himself exempt from this responsibility and what, exactly, is he trying to hide?