Statewide - Peg Speaks Up for Transparency to the People

(2/19/18) Last week, I spoke up for government accountability and transparency to the people of Colorado by objecting to proposed rules of the statewide Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) that would remove the Commission from the Colorado Open Records Act and make it more difficult for the public to get information about the Commission's activities. The IEC is the Commission created 10 years ago by Amendment 41 to act as an independent body to enforce ethics rules on state, county and many local elected officials and employees. Faced with only opposing comments in the record, the Commission delayed any further consideration of the proposed rules to a later meeting. Multiple news sources covered the public hearing:

Tyler Silvy in The Greeley Tribune wrote:

Perl said the commission was created by the people of Colorado for transparency and to build trust in government, and Perl said the commission has an obligation to err on the side of those values.

Perl said the commission has complied with the bare minimum when it comes to transparency and following open meetings and open records rules, citing a lack of agendas, agenda packets, as well as a reluctance to live stream meetings or even record audio.

“The commission should try to be a model for transparency and accountability in government,” Perl said.

Marianne Goodland's article in Colorado Politics stated:

And Peg Perl, who spent much of the last decade with Colorado Ethics Watch and monitoring the commission’s activities, wrote that the commission has followed the open records act for years, including responding to multiple open records requests. She also pointed out that in two lawsuits, both involving Ethics Watch, the commission asserted its rights under the open records act that it now purports to reject.

During a Monday hearing on the rules, Perl and others took the commission for task for its lack of transparency. “The commission has basically defaulted to doing the least amount possible to comply with any open meetings or transparency laws,” Perl said. That includes reluctance to livestream or even record its meetings, despite having had the equipment to do so for at least two years. Meeting minutes are barebones, she indicated. “All of these things are not required by the law but are best practices for transparency and accessibility,” she said.

Perl encouraged the commission to be a model of transparency rather than “doing as little as possible.”

Jeff Roberts wrote in The Longmont Observer

Rather than exempting itself from the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), the IEC should “instead try to be a model for transparency and accountability in government,” said public policy consultant Peg Perl, who was senior counsel for the now-disbanded nonprofit watchdog Colorado Ethics Watch.

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