Friday, May 10, 2013

A Minor Musing About Rounds Not Relasing Records

David Montgomery points to a Daily Caller story about Mike Rounds refusing an unnamed Democratic group's request for
“all official correspondence, including electronic, from or on behalf of Governor Marion Michael Rounds” during his time in office, “records relating to the Capitol 4th Floor renovation project and Governor’s mansion proposal,” “records relating to DUSEL (Deep Underground Science and Engineering Lab) at Homestake Mine,” “correspondence regarding inmate files,” and “monthly reports from the Office of Executive Management.”
Montgomery also reminds his readers that South Dakota's public records laws are rather abysmal:
But this issue illustrates the different world a U.S. Senate campaign is compared to a gubernatorial campaign. South Dakotans may not have cared very much when the Argus Leader reported on how limited our state’s open records laws are. But nationally, most states and the federal government make FAR more information available to the public than does South Dakota. The law letting Mike Rounds keep his official correspondence private may seem normal to some South Dakotans, but to outsiders it looks like he’s being secretive and hiding things.
Even under Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Rounds’ successor (and ally) who is much more favorable to open government, it’s been a very slow slog expanding open government laws in South Dakota. A commission convened by Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley proposed eight new laws last year. Half of them — including some of the most significant, such as a bill opening up police mug shots to the public as they are in almost every other state — were defeated in the Legislature despite backing from Daugaard and Jackley.
So welcome to South Dakota, national reporters. It’s a whole new world here.
The Daily Caller article has a short paragraph that may reveal a Rounds character flaw, stubbornness:
Skjonsberg said that he expects Rounds to similarly deny all other open-records requests as the campaign carries on.
This request clearly looks like a fishing expedition, but someone will be able to frame more specific future requests that will make a refusal appear as if Rounds has something to hide. Refusing for the sake of refusing may cause Rounds a little more trouble than whatever oppo research will find in what he releases.

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