Bill would open records kept by private associations of elected officials

By Jeffrey A. Roberts
CFOIC Executive Director

Records kept by private associations of elected officials that get some of their money from public sources would be open to public scrutiny under legislation proposed by state Sen. Kevin Lundberg.

The Berthoud Republican said the Colorado County Clerks Association’s involvement last year in a major elections-reform bill prompted his sponsorship of SB 14-070, which is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 27.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg

Sen. Kevin Lundberg

Lundberg last session opposed HB 13-1303, a new law that allows Election Day voter registration and requires that mail ballots be sent to all active registered voters. That measure, which Lundberg called the “Same Day Voter Fraud Act” during Senate debate, was “heavily promoted” by the county clerks association, the lawmaker said, “and it concerns me that government-funded associations of that sort have no accountability.”

“I think people ought to know how this stuff develops,” Lundberg said. “I’m not trying to pry into peoples’ private business, but I am going to pry into public business that we all pay for.”

SB 14-070 would amend the Colorado Open Records Act to include records maintained by private associations that have memberships consisting primarily of state or local elected officials and collect at least 10 percent of their annual revenues from “public moneys.”

“If the public is providing substantial funding for an organization, there needs to be a higher standard for public scrutiny over that organization’s efforts,” Lundberg said. Such associations, he added, would be more aware of “what’s proper and not proper,” knowing that anybody could inspect their records at any time.

Donetta Davidson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, said her organization has not taken a position on Lundberg’s bill. She said the county clerks association supported HB 13-1303 last year and offered suggestions as it moved through the legislative process, but did not propose the measure.

“I think we’ve been pretty transparent with everything we’ve done,” Davidson said. She added that last year a citizen requested and received records from a password-protected message board on the association’s website.

“We’re probably the most open association there is,” Davidson said.

Follow the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition on Twitter @CoFOIC. Like CFOIC’s Facebook page. Visit CFOIC’s legislature page to track bills in the General Assembly that could affect the flow or availability of information in Colorado.

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