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SC Stalling On FOIA Reform … Again



For the second year in a row, South Carolina’s “Republican-controlled” General Assembly is balking at meaningful reform of the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). And for the second year in a row South Carolina’s corporate-owned legacy media – which is supposed to be fighting for this fundamental right on behalf of its readers – is giving lawmakers a hall pass.

At issue? Whether the legislative branch of government should have to comply with FOIA (they currently don’t – which is one reason why the Palmetto State ranks dead last in the nation in open government).

Rather than fighting to force lawmakers to disclose their public dealings, the S.C. Press Association is actually lobbying to kill this long overdue transparency.

Amazing, isn’t it? The very organization which ought to be leading the charge for this reform is actively working to undercut it. Meanwhile the state’s legacy press outlets are far more concerned with preserving their government handouts than they are with protecting citizens.

Sheesh … and they say blogs are lacking in integrity?

Meanwhile S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – who campaigned on transparency three years ago – has been anything but … also, let’s not forget the governor was the poster girl for hiding behind the legislative FOIA exemption during her 2010 campaign.

Not surprisingly Haley hasn’t lifted a finger in support of FOIA reform – meaningful or otherwise.

So … is there anybody in Columbia fighting for open government? Yes. S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn (R-Lexington) is once again sponsoring language which would compel lawmakers to abide by the same FOIA laws as other public officials.

We support Quinn’s efforts … as we did last year. In fact unless Quinn’s language eliminating the legislative exemption is attached to the FOIA bill that’s being pushed by S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor (R-Aiken), lawmakers will have once again failed to take meaningful steps on the transparency front this year.

Given our state’s worst-in-the-nation standing on this issue, that’s simply unacceptable.