Sunshine Madness contest: Nominate the worst of ‘open’ government in Colorado

Can you top this?

A records request made several years ago by the parents of a special-needs student uncovered a remarkably revealing (and appalling) email written by an administrator with the Poudre School District.

“Please ask all involved staff to delete AND destroy any e-mail or paper records related to this family,” she directed an employee. “When they delete the e-mail, they need to ‘empty the trash.’ Please have them do this immediately. All other records with the exception of the latest plan should be destroyed — shred. The reason is to protect against an Open Records Request.”

Sunshine Madness

The message, which survived because the recipient made paper copies of emails she was told to delete, is CFOIC president Steve Zansberg’s all-time favorite example of a government official in Colorado thumbing their nose at the open-government laws.

“This is the closest thing to a ‘smoking gun’ I’ve encountered in my legal career,” Zansberg says. 

What’s your favorite (or should we say least favorite) example from the past two or three years of someone blatantly obstructing the public’s right to know in Colorado? It could involve a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request, a Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (CCJRA) request, access to a meeting under the Colorado Open Meetings Law, or access to the court system.

Email your nominations (with details) to

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition will reveal the worst of the worst during Sunshine Week, which this year is March 13-19. Sunshine Week is an annual nationwide celebration of your right to access to public information. It was started in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors, now the News Leaders Association.

The “smoking gun” email.

Exposing obstruction of Colorado’s FOI laws goes hand in hand with CFOIC’s mission is to educate. For more on that, see the online sunshine laws guide we published last November.

Follow the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition on Twitter @CoFOIC. Like CFOIC’s Facebook page. Do you appreciate the information and resources provided by CFOIC? Please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

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