Connecticut press successfully defends open records law

State integrity news for Connecticut, from the Sunshine Review:

The Connecticut media have successfully stopped an overly broad FOIA exemption from being passed by the legislature. The legislature had included a FOI provision on the omnibus bill that would have exempted any documents tied to private companies requesting public economic assistance.

Specifically it read: "related to a request for assistance from a business or organization seeking to expand or relocate to this state, provided the disclosure of such records could adversely affect the financial interest of the state, the business or organization."

Read the rest of the story at Sunshine Review.

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Open records not so open in Missouri, Kansas

State integrity news for Kansas and Missouri, from KCUR:

Open records are not fully “open” anywhere in Missouri, but ironically the National Freedom of Information Coalition is headquartered in the state. Ken Bunting, executive director for that organization cites a recent nationwide study by the Center for Public Integrity that gives Missouri a C- for overall opennes and accountability and an F for access to public information.

Doug Anstaett of the Kansas Press Association says records in that state are also far from open.

Read and hear more at KCUR - Kansas City.

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Open government advocates want more online transparency in Tennessee

State integrity news for Tennessee, from TNReport:

The State of Tennessee is lately booting up new technologies designed in theory to ease the public’s often wearisome interactions with government bureaucracies.

But genuine progress toward making government more transparent to taxpayers is actually pretty slow going, according to groups that promote easy access to public information.

Read the rest of the story at TNReport.

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Editorial: Close loopholes and open public pensions to the public

State integrity news for New York, from the New York Times:

The law allows the disclosure of the names and pensions of retired public workers. But it exempts disclosure of the name of a “beneficiary” — which has long been interpreted to mean a person receiving the benefits after a retiree dies.

A state court ruling last year, however, found that a retiree could also be “beneficiary” and, therefore, could be shielded from disclosure. It is now up to the State Legislature to undo this ridiculous ruling and clarify an important law.

Read the rest of the story at the New York Times.

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Editorial: Supreme Court right to sustain accountability for corrupt officials

State integrity news for Alabama, from the Los Angeles Times:

It's usually difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a campaign contribution influenced a public official to take an official action. That's why other ways to limit the influence of money in politics, such as disclosure rules and limits on contributions, are so important.

But sometimes the link between cause and effect is so clear that a politician can be convicted of criminal bribery. The Supreme Court last week wisely refused to make such convictions harder to achieve.

Read the rest of the story at the Los Angeles Times.

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Oregon Earns 'D' Grade In National Judicial Review

State integrity news for Oregon from SII partner Oregon Public Broadcasting:

If you go before a judge for a traffic ticket, to get a divorce, or deal with a crime, you want to know the court system is clean. The Center for Public Integrity and Public Radio International have assembled a report card that rates judicial accountability. Oregon's grade was a "D."

No state west of the Mississippi received an "A."  But that doesn't mean that state courts are rife with corruption. The project looks at mechanisms designed to catch problems in the system.

Read and hear more from Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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With Corbett's support, Pa. lawmakers move toward more campaign disclosure

State Integrity news from Pennsylvania from SII partner WHYY:

The Pennsylvania Legislature is acting to give citizens a better look at who funds political campaigns in the state.

A measure requiring electronic filing of campaign finance reports appears headed for passage in the State House, at least in part because Gov. Tom Corbett wanted more information about his opponent's backers in the 2010 governor's race.

Read and hear more from WHYY - Philadelphia.

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Editorial: Make legislators disclose their conflicts of interest

State integrity news for Illinois, from the Chicago Tribune:

Watch the lobbyists, lawyers and consultants swing through the House speaker's office door on any session day, many of whom hire his law firm to fight their property tax assessments or to provide "legal guidance." You don't need an ethics expert to deduce that something is very wrong in Illinois.

Legislative leaders who have private business interests should be required to disclose far more information about their moonlighting, so voters can judge what's a conflict.

Read the rest of the story at the Chicago Tribune.

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Former Texas lawmaker spent campaign money on personal expenses

State integrity news for Texas, from the Austin American-Statesman:

A former state representative from Williamson County has been spending leftover campaign cash on high-priced airline tickets, boutique hotel rooms, high-dollar restaurant tabs and Apple Computer products — possibly in violation of state ethics laws.

Mike Krusee, who became a registered lobbyist in 2009, left the Texas House after the 2007 legislative session with more than $300,000 in unspent contributions in his campaign bank account. He has spent almost $200,000 of the money, according to filings with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Read the rest of the story at the Austin American-Statesman.

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Arkansas Gov. Beebe supports ethics reform initiative

State integrity news for Arkansas, from the Arkansas News Bureau:

Gov. Mike Beebe said today he will support a ethics reform initiative if it qualifies for the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Supporters of the proposed Campaign Finance and Lobbying Reform Act of 2012 have until July 6 to gather 62,507 valid signatures of registered voters to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Beebe said he does not plan to campaign for the proposed initiated act, but that he will speak for it if asked.

Read the rest of the story at the Arkansas News Bureau.

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