Editorial: State lawmakers’ emails should be public

From the Times-Call (Longmont):  Colorado legislators should be held to the same standard of transparency that state workers are held to — whether it’s bureaucrats or CDOT snowplow drivers.

A recent 9News report revealed that every one of the state’s 100 lawmakers uses a private email account for public business. This means that records of these elected officials’ correspondence with one another — and with others outside the state’s bureaucracy — are kept off of state servers and out of public reach, unless those legislators offer them up.

That needs to change.

When email messages regard a lawmaker’s public business, those emails are public record. Keeping them on public servers, and having them readily accessible, is the only way to guarantee the right of Colorado residents to know what their elected officials are up to. And that argument stands even if the current system is working.

“We’ve had a system in Colorado that’s worked for us for a very long time,” House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, who represents Boulder County’s District 10, told 9News. “Yes, I hand it all over.”

We believe her. The problem is that even if every current lawmaker will hand over every email related to their public business, it doesn’t mean that this will always be the case. Allowing lawmakers the leeway to reveal what they want to reveal and keep hidden what they want to keep hidden leaves open the door to governance in secret.

Visit the Times-Call for more.


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