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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eymnan: Public Records Act Unconstitutional to the Extent It Could Lead to Harassment

The Seattle P-I's Strange Bedfellows blog has this piece, which states:

"In an amended complaint filed Monday, initiative proponent Tim Eyman argues that the state's Public Records Act is 'unconstitutional to the extent that it requires public disclosure when there is a reasonable probability of threats, harassment, and reprisals.'"

Eyman is wrong.

Threats, harassment, and reprisals are already against the law. Enforce those laws. This would curb the specific problem in a given situation without giving government a blanket excuse to keep virtually all information secret. Government could find a way to say that release of virtually any information would lead to someone being "harassed." For example, maybe a politician claims release of a damaging email will cause "harassment" because now he or she has a tough re-election campaign.

The starting point for looking at the public's right to know how their government is functioning can never be "There could be some crazy guy out there out of the millions of people in the state." That's the same as saying "Never release anything."