At least one of the two offices charged with enforcing public records laws in that state will have a new person in charge after the November general election.
It is an indisputable outcome of the races for Secretary of State and Attorney General.
For the secretary of state, seven-term incumbent William Galvin faces a Democratic primary challenge from Boston NAACP President Tanisha Sullivan. This winner will face perennial Republican candidate Rayla Campbell in the general election.
With incumbent Attorney General Maura Healey the heavy favorite to become the next governor, former Boston City Councilwoman Andrea Campbell, longtime labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and former assistant AG Quentin Palfrey have joined the contest Democratic primary to succeed him.
The winner of this race will face Republican GA nominee Jay McMahon.
Currently, anyone who petitions a city, town, school district, state agency, or most other public institutions in Massachusetts can appeal a non-response or denial to the supervisor. public records of the Office of the Secretary of State, who may require the entity in question to comply with the request.
However, only the AG’s office can legally enforce the Public Records Act. This agency has the power to prosecute particularly intransigent fraudsters.
Galvin’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment from the Boston Herald for its story.
However, every Secretary of State and GA candidate contacted by the Herald mentioned how the state government is notoriously remote from public scrutiny.
Sullivan, Galvin’s main opponent, told the Herald in an interview that she would revamp the secretary of state’s clumsy website to make it easier to track requests and appeals.
And Rayla Campbell, the Republican challenger, said she was often blocked when applying for records from school districts and other entities as part of her conservative activism.
Among the nominees for the GA, Andrea Campbell said in a statement that she will “firmly enforce our public records laws and work to expand these laws to eliminate exemptions for the governor’s office and the legislature. “.
Candidates in either race trying to break away from the pack would be wise to follow Andrea Campbell’s lead in working to eliminate public records exemptions for the governor’s office and state lawmakers. ‘State.
Why should the state body that enacts laws be exempt from laws granting greater public access?
Massachusetts, known for its restrictive and archaic public records laws, finally passed reform legislation in 2016, the first update to such laws in nearly 40 years.
However, these improvements only concerned the functioning of the municipal administration. They did not address the long-standing exception to transparency enjoyed by the legislature, the governor and the judiciary.
After retaining their exemption in this landmark reform law, House and Senate lawmakers have been tasked with finding ways to shed light on the legislative process.
This law created a commission, tasking it with studying the accessibility of information about its activities – including the scheduling of legislative sessions and committee hearings, and the publication of committee records.
But after numerous delays, this panel was unable to reach consensus on a list of recommendations – not a totally unexpected result.
The legislatures of at least 40 other states are subject to some degree of public record scrutiny, including all others in New England.
Candidates truly committed to changing the status quo should appeal to like-minded entities such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, the New England First Amendment Coalition, and enlightened lawmakers. to enact legislation that includes the Legislature and Governor’s Office in laws on the oversight of public records.
This is the winning message in both races.
Our Representatives and Senators serve at the pleasure of their constituents, who deserve to know whether they are fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to them.