INDIANAPOLIS (February 18, 2013) — Linda Petersen, SPJ Freedom of Information Committee Chair, last week wrote to Wyoming governor Matt Mead asking him to veto a bill concerning public records. The bill, HB223 Public Records — Institutions of Higher Education, would conceal from the public the search process for the University of Wyoming president. Society of Professional Journalists President Sonny Albarado also signed the letter.
On behalf of the Freedom of Information Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation's largest and broadest-based journalism organization, we respectfully ask that you veto HB223, Public Records — Institutions of Higher Education. We believe that should this bill become law, it would undermine transparency in government and erode public trust in the state's higher-education system.
As you know, this bill was drafted in response to a court decision requiring that the names and résumés of the finalists for the University of Wyoming presidency be made public. The court rightfully held that there was a public interest in knowing who was being seriously considered to head the state's flagship university. This bill is an attempt to negate that decision and maintain the shroud of secrecy around the presidential search process. That is cynical politics at its worst, and shows utter contempt for the principle of open government.