S.C. Legislator: ‘Without transparency, there is no accountability’

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” state Rep. Weston Newton said.

Newton’s comments came this week after the state Legislature voted to amend South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act.

The Bluffton Republican said he is “delighted” that some much-needed changes have been made.

“We’ve been working on this for a number of years,” Newton said.

The act outlines how public bodies, such as state and local governments and school districts, comply with records requests from the public.

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South Carolina FOIA bill gets moved to the full Senate, but may hit roadblock

Senators advanced a bill that would change how to resolve disputes over the state's Freedom of Information Act law, but the legislation could get stonewalled by opposition from some lawmakers.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move a long-awaited bill to the full chamber Tuesday, over the objection of Sen. Margie Bright-Matthews, D-Walterboro, who doesn't want the state's Administrative Law Court to handle FOIA cases.

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James Brown suit could change SC freedom of information laws

[A] lawsuit in South Carolina could change who can access public information, and it's already affecting a high-profile case centered around the Godfather of Soul. The biggest thing in question here is can you, a private citizen, be stripped of your FOIA rights if you're being sued by a public body?

That would change the game. It would mean a lot of time and money that people probably don't have.

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FOIA legislation to be revisited by South Carolina lawmakers

South Carolina legislators this session will again attempt to pass legislation aimed at reforming the state’s Freedom of Information Act, which regulates public meetings and the release of public records. S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, and S.C. Rep. Weston Newton, R-Beaufort, pre-filed a FOIA bill in the House, and Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, has filed a similar Senate bill.

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SC: Public outcry for transparency in police shooting investigations clashes with public records rules

In the wake of recent police shootings, the public outcry for transparency has come head to head with law enforcement agencies’ interpretation of freedom of information laws.

The statutes outline the public’s right to records produced by government agencies but also include exemptions for law enforcement records. Those are meant for such situations as protecting the identity of a confidential informant or keeping investigative techniques hidden from criminals.

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SC: Four rural fire departments fail to provide public records

A government transparency expert has said the Alvin, Huger, Longridge and Pineville-Russellville departments have disregarded South Carolina law even after the agencies have been given multiple opportunities over three months to make the information public.

In Berkeley County, 26 rural fire departments — which operate as nonprofits — are contracted through the county to provide fire service to unincorporated areas.

Because those departments operate using public money, they are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

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SC: Judge deciding if Horry County should release files of former officers, records of sexual assault complaints against police

A circuit court judge will decide this week whether to force the Horry County Police Department to release the personnel files of two former officers to a lawyer representing a woman who has accused former detective Allen Large of sexual assault.

The attorney is also seeking citizen complaints and internal affairs files about all HCPD employees accused of making unwanted sexual advances or sexual abuse.

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SC: Medical University of SC fights newspaper over information involving alleged cheating scandal

An attorney for the Medical University of South Carolina says it could cost $275,000 to search email servers in connection with an open records inquiry into allegations that two students cheated on exams.

In a letter to The Post and Courier, the university’s attorney also warned a reporter not to contact members of MUSC’s Honor Council, students or employees about university disciplinary proceedings.

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