Lawmakers are using ‘privilege’ more often than they claim to deny access, records show
From The Olympian:
Washington state lawmakers may be invoking legislative privilege more often than leadership claimed last week during a pre-legislative press conference.
Leading state lawmakers were given the opportunity Thursday to respond to claims that they have been using legislative privilege to deny access to public records.
Some denied the use of the exemption altogether, while others, such as Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, and Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, gave their interpretation of the laws some legislators are now using to shield themselves from public disclosure of certain records.
Since their comments, however, various organizations and individuals who have made public records requests have come forward to show instances where the exemption has been used by state lawmakers.
On Wednesday, McClatchy first reported about how legislative privilege is being invoked by legislators to deny release of public records and how the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WashCOG) believes the self-given exemption is the latest in the Legislature’s attempts to conceal public records.
“It’s never once occurred to me that there must be some reason I could find that I shouldn’t turn this over if it is responsive to the request,” said House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, who spoke first.