FOI Pledge Update

Asked to support the Freedom of Information Pledge, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo responded, “where do I sign.” A well known advocate of the people’s right to know, Lembo is, so far, only one of two candidates for Constitutional office to sign the pledge put out by the nonprofit Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information.

Gov. Malloy has said he will sign it, but he hasn’t yet. Petitioning candidate Joe Visconti signed the pledge, stating that, “my administration will work to streamline the FOI process by making access to information more timely and more easily accessible.” Republican challenger Tom Foley says he supports FOI but doesn’t sign pledges.

About an equal number of Democratic and Republican candidates for the General Assembly have so far signed the pledged, including five key Democratic incumbents in leadership positions: Senate Deputy President Pro Tempore Joan Hartley (15th District), Deputy Speakers of the House Peggy Sayers (60th) and Bob Godfrey (110th), Assistant Majority Leader Elissa Wright (41st) and Assistant deputy speaker Mary Fritz (90th).

Fritz responded to the two-pronged pledge with “Absolutely” she will “do whatever I can to require that any proposals to weaken or impair the FOI Act be presented for debate at public hearings before any action is taken on them.” She also said “I always have” supported the “independence of the state’s unique Freedom of Information Commission and oppose weakening it.”

The state FOI Act was signed by Gov. Ella Grasso in 1975. Sayers, in signing the pledge, said that, “Gov. Grasso held this seat when she served as a state representative and it is only fitting that I support her legislation.”

Sayers Republican opponent, Scott A. Storms, also signed the pledge.

Republican candidate for state Treasurer Tim Herbst has yet to submit his signed pledge, but put out a statement that he “wholeheartedly agrees with the spirit of the pledge and proudly signs on.”

CCFOI sent out the pledge to 360 candidates for state office on Oct. 8. Only about 10 percent have responded to date.

“This is new on Connecticut’s political landscape and I’m not surprised that many politicians have so far delayed signing the pledge,” said James H. Smith, president of CCFOI. “However, it is significant that   important legislative leaders see the value in pledging to the people an open government.”

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