Editorial: Who watches the watchdog?

The Pueblo Chieftain: When the state’s voters passed a constitutional amendment creating the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission in 2006, the last thing they expected was for the ethics panel to declare itself above the Colorado Open Records Act. But that is what the commission proposes — making its operations less transparent and thus more secretive.

We join the Colorado Press Association and Colorado Broadcasters Association — staunch defenders of free and open access to public information — in urging the Independent Ethics Commission to withdraw the proposal and follow the Colorado Open Records Act.

It is ironic that an entity created by the voters as a state government watchdog would not honor the Open Records Act — of all things.

he Independent Ethics Commission is hanging by a thin thread, claiming to be guided by the Judicial Department’s Public Access to Information and Records, which was written by and for the state courts exclusively. It defies legal and common sense to deem that the commission operate under the same rules as the Colorado court system.

“The fact that (the commission) is housed in a judicial branch building does not exempt it from CORA and the judicial branch’s own rule governing access to that branch’s administrative records makes that abundantly clear,” the press and broadcasters associations wrote to Dino Ioannides, the commission’s executive director and sole staff member. “It seems particularly offensive, and ironic, that an entity established to address ethical issues in state government, and thereby foster greater public trust in governmental institutions, should be subject to less public access than other governmental entities in Colorado.”

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