Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes, Feb. 21, 2018
The meeting was at Wood-n-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford.
Present: Dan Klau, Mitch Pearlman, Jeff Daniels, Chris Powell, Michele Jacklin, John Bailey, Mary Connolly, George Lombardi, Colleen Murphy.
The minutes of the Jan. 31, 2018 meeting were accepted.
Treasurer’s report: Lombardi reported a balance of $4,657.71. Bills for 2018 are going out this week.
Legislative report: There was discussion of pending legislation and the need to prepare testimony for scheduled public hearings. The primary focus of discussion was legislation proposed by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to limit the amount of information on voters that is available to the public. The proposal was prompted by the negative public reaction to a now-disbanded Trump administration commission appointed to investigate his claim of fraud in the 2016 election. The commission requested information on registered voters. Merrill said Connecticut voters objected, calling and emailing her office to voice concern about identity theft.
Merrill wants to block access to some personal information, including a voter’s birthdate, and allow certain categories of users to access the information, such as people who claim to be journalists, political party committees or academic researchers.
There was agreement that CCFOI should strongly object to Merrill’s proposals. Information on registered voters is essential to assess how well the election system is functioning. In addition, Pearlman said the Connecticut Constitution does not require the data collection on registered voters that Merrill now says must be protected from public view. “The problem is in collection, not dissemination,” he said.
Merrill’s proposals will be the subject of a hearing Feb. 26 and CCFOI representatives will be present.
Background on FOIC budget and workload: Murphy distributed a copy of a fact sheet prepared to provide legislators and FOI advocates information on FOIC’s budget and workload. A copy of the fact sheet is attached to these minutes.
Looking ahead: The next CCFOI meeting will be March 21 at noon at Wood-n-Tap.