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David Cuillier Authors Article and is Quoted in Stories on Government Secrecy and Public Records Laws

David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is the author of “Growing Secrecy Limits Government Accountability” published on on March 11.

In the article, Cuillier focuses on how government agencies are increasingly hiding their work from the public and how this behavior can have significant ramifications.

Cuillier writes, “For decades, journalists and civic activists have lamented the increasing secrecy of government. They were denied government information, particularly from public records requests. Reports have shown secrecy getting worse at the federal, state and local government levels.”

According to Cuillier, “Access to government records helps people research their family history, identify quality schools for their children, monitor the cleanliness of their drinking water, background-check their online dates, and hold their local town officials accountable.”

He adds, “Just as researchers have identified secrecy spreading through the government, recent studies offer ideas for possible cures. Independent oversight offices with enforcement power provide private citizens an alternative to litigation. Instead of having to hire a lawyer to sue the government for what you are entitled to, the independent agencies will review your case, make a determination and force the government to provide you the information.”

Cuillier was also quoted in several publications for Sunshine Week, which took place March 10-16, 2024, an annual celebration of transparency laws. The Brechner Freedom of Information Project is one of the organizers of Sunshine Week.

In “Without More Accountability, Sunshine Laws are Useless,” published on on March 12, Cuillier states that the U.S. has public records laws, but there is a lack of enforcement.

“The system’s stacked against the average person. It’s not fair that they have to hire an attorney and take all that time and money to just make sure the law’s followed,” he said.

In “The Public is Paying the Price for Local Government Secrecy” published on on March 11, Cuillier comments on how journalists must sue for access to public records and how it’s a bad deal for taxpayers. He has found that the freedom of information process is underfunded at all levels of government.

“It’s not a priority, which makes sense,” Cuillier said. “Why would government officials put a lot of money into something that embarrasses them or exposes them to potential embarrassment?”

And on March 6, Cuillier was quoted in “Utah Lawmakers Passed New Legislation to Hide Their Official Duties from the Public” published in The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune.

The article focuses on bills passed during the 2024 Utah legislative session making elected officials’ information more private and to keep more of their public business a secret.

“The public should know where its elected officials are doing business,” said Cuillier. “They have a right to know if their highly paid government officials are out cavorting in the Bahamas or meeting with special interests. That’s why calendars are public throughout the country. To make those secret is just bizarre.”

Posted: March 15, 2024
Category: Brechner News
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