Government business is public record

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Clearly, our state’s elected officials — or at least the majority of them — feel as if they’re above the rest of us.

Once they become elected, they feel they’ve joined an elite, above-the-law class of individuals.

That very notion is what is driving the popularity of so-called outsiders onto the national political stage.

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People are fed up with elitism and for good reason.

Mississippi’s top legislators receive an F-grade after a recent national survey by the Associated Press. The AP made a relatively simple request of top state lawmakers and most of the governors in 50 states.

The public information request was for copies of their daily schedules and emails sent on their legislator accounts from the week of Feb. 1-7.

Gov. Phil Bryant released all of the information, redacting only information from some email that included things such as private telephone numbers.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn flat-out refused to provide anything.

Gunn went so far as to suggest the state’s 1983 Public Records Act does not apply to members of the Legislature.

In denying the request, Gunn referenced the “doctrine of legislative immunity,” which dates by to early English common law.

Gunn and other lawmakers are using a line added to the public record laws that effectively suggests lawmakers can determine their own rules regarding their records.

If doing the public’s business on public time with a public email account isn’t a matter of public record, we don’t know what is.

Clearly, lawmakers have forgotten for whom they work. The public’s business should be public.

Any public servant who feels so privileged that their business should be immune from public access deserves to be sent home by voters.