Posted: Jun 14, 2011 8:21 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP
Updated: Jun 14, 2011 8:24 AM
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - An attempt to open more of the governor's office records to public view was overwhelmingly rejected Monday by the Louisiana Senate, which sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal to keep the records secret.
The Senate voted 22-14 against the bill by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, despite recent dust-ups between the Jindal administration and senators over withholding documents. The move likely killed the measure for the legislative session.
Adley's bill would have kept communications between the governor and his staff confidential, along with the governor's personal e-mails, phone records and security details.
But it would have removed a provision that keeps secret those records pertaining to the governor's "deliberative process," language Adley says has been so broadly interpreted that budget and financial records in other state departments have been withheld by the Jindal administration.
"We have a history of documents being shrouded in secrecy," Adley said of the administration.
Jindal's lawyers have said the change proposed by Adley would limit the governor's ability to get candid advice.
Only one senator spoke against the proposal. Sen. Danny Martiny said if the legislation passed, it could discourage conversations about economic development deals and could just push the governor and his staff not to write anything down to avoid the public records requirement.
"If we have enough faith in our governor to elect him, I'd much rather not tie his hands," said Martiny, R-Kenner. He added, "This is the person we chose to lead this state, and we ought to let him do so without everything he does being second-guessed."
Several senators who spoke in favor of the bill cited Jindal's campaign rhetoric about transparency and openness, and they complained about his administration's recent refusal to hand over documents related to a health care privatization effort and a separate Medicaid contract. The information was only provided after senators voted to subpoena documents from the administration.
Adley has failed in repeated attempts to limit the governor's public records exemption.
Previous governors had broad exemptions from Louisiana's public records law. In 2009, Jindal backed legislation to shield anything considered part of his "deliberative process" and set a six-month delay on releasing budgetary advice that state departments submit to the governor.
The administration has used that exemption to shield documents that Adley said had previously been available.
Adley's bill would have required that budgetary records couldn't be hidden.
"It's going to make public everything that deals with the fiscal matters of this state. That should be public," he said.
The measure also would have required all documents in a governor's office to be preserved and archived. All records would be open to the public after 10 years from its creation.