Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tenn. governor wants to make business records secret, maybe alter handling of records requests

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told the state newspaper convention last week that "It may be time to reset the state’s policy for handling requests for public documents," writes Andrea Zelinski of TN Report. “A lot of times I see open records requests that I think 10 years ago, the reporter was doing a lot of legwork on his own before he ever asked the open records request,” Haslam, a Republican who was mayor of Knoxville before being elected governor in 2010, told the Tennessee Press Association.

"Haslam is also pushing legislation to keep secret certain information from businesses seeking millions of dollars in economic development grants. Haslam wants to shield corporate financial statements, budgets and ownership information," Zelinski writes. "Haslam was the only major candidate in the 2010 gubernatorial race who refused to release his tax forms. After his election, he exempted himself and Cabinet members from [his predecessor's] requirement to disclose the amounts of income from various sources. Those high-ranking officials must still disclose income sources."

Kent Flanagan, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, told TN Report that the Haslam administration includes many officials from the private sector, "who aren’t used to such high levels of interest from the public," Zelinski writes.

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