Wednesday, March 23, 2016
It might not always be apparent in Jackson and Mississippi, but the public has the right to know. And view. And read. And copy. And attend. And watch. Legally, under federal and state law, taxpayers are entitled to full access to what governments employees are doing at pretty much all times, and with few and specific exceptions.
The same principle applies to political campaigns and their donors, especially those often-secretive PACs where a lot of the influence is gathered and hidden from view. The Jackson Free Press has long been dedicated to forcing sunshine into places where public servants would rather it not be (usually a hint of unethical or illegal activity). Last week was national Sunshine Week, and we chose to start rolling out the results of our renewed focus on government and candidate transparency with state reporter Arielle Dreher's first (of many) reports on who lobbyists and PACs are funding and how (see jfp.ms/lobbyists).
Meantime, we call on every Mississippian who receives public payment to understand that their actions, documents and meetings must be open, with few exceptions. This includes work and planning sessions; contractors and subcontractors and the actual contracts and amounts; email and all correspondence. We are coming for much more of this information, and we expect fast responses and reasonable fees (50 cents a page is too much; try 10 cents), as well as the right to inspect any and all documents we ask to see and take photos of them ourselves.
Our democracy depends on transparent government, and every citizen must demand it. See jfp.ms/sunshine to read about our efforts.
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