Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Another ALEC rep could be in trouble -- in Texas!

ALEC rep. Stephanie Klick
Stephanie Klick, a Texas state representative, doesn't think she needs to obey state open records laws when it comes to her dealings with ALEC. Unfortunately for Rep. Klick, Texas' attorney general thinks she needs to obey the law.

The Center for Media and Democracy asked Rep. Klick for records of her communications with ALEC, the corporate dating service for state lawmakers. That apparently unnerved Klick, because she asked the attorney general if she could keep her records secret. She argued that her dealings with corporate lobbyists could be withheld from the public because of her right to freedom of association and something called "deliberative privilege."

Attorney General Greg Abbott didn't buy it. Neither did the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which editorialized:
...she shouldn’t keep her correspondence a secret. As the preamble to the Texas Public Information Act says, the people delegate authority to make laws, but they “do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.”
Klick isn't the first state lawmaker to stonewall requests for information about ties to ALEC. The Center for Media and Democracy is suing Wisconsin state Sen. Leah Vukmir, ALEC's treasurer, for hiding documents sent from ALEC to legislators.

Another ALEC front, Georgia state Sen. Don Balfour, was indicted recently on 18 counts of corruption.

(No one, by the way, should be surprised at corruption charges against state lawmakers who take money from ALEC to travel to posh resorts where they meet corporate donors.)

Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, came up with the best description of why Rep. Klick couldn't get away with hiding her dealings with ALEC.
You cannot just create a special private club between lobbyists and lawmakers and then claim your communications with legislators cannot be disclosed to the public under state sunshine laws.