State ethics commission challenged over open records position, again

Colorado Politics: The state’s Independent Ethics Commission has decided to write its own rules about how and whether it is subject to the state’s open records law, and that’s drawing pushback from the Colorado Press Association, the Colorado Broadcasters Association, the Secretary of State’s Office and other open records advocates.

The commission, in court challenges to its views on open records, is 0 for 2.

Earlier this month, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition reported the commission had written its own rules about access to open records and wrote those proposed rules in a way that may differ from state law.

In an undated post on the IEC website, the commission announced it would discuss the proposed access rules at its Feb. 12, meeting, with written comments due by Jan. 31. The commission posted a ten-page list of how it would handle public access to IEC documents.

Among the rules that critics say conflict with state law: that the IEC can determine the format in which records are provided, electronic or paper. That conflicts with a 2017 law that says records available in digital format must be provided that way. It’s not a choice that can be made by the agency.

Another rule provides an exception to an open records request if that “inspection could compromise the safety or security of an Ethics Commission employee or commissioner.” Jeff Roberts of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition (CFOIC) told Colorado Politics no such exception exists in the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and such a rule could be open to all kinds of interpretations.

But the heart of the matter, Roberts said, is that the IEC claims that it is not subject to the open records law because it is housed in the Judicial Department, which is also not subject to the open records law. The IEC has been housed in the Judicial Department since 2010. Before that, the commission was under the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration.

Visit Colorado Politics for more.

Subscribe to Our Blog