MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 19, 2013

Transparent government top issue


— There is something drastically wrong with government when states decide they must sue the federal government for information.

That problem was illustrated when Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt joined 11 other states to sue the Environmental Protection Agency.

The suit asked that the EPA turn over documents that the states allege will show a pattern of cooperation and collaboration with environmental organizations.

The lawsuit alleges that binding consent decrees between the EPA and environmental groups that have sued the agency have led to new rules and regulations for states without allowing their attorneys general to defend their state’s interests and those of business and consumers.

“It’s a regulation-through-litigation type of initiative,” Pruitt told the Associated Press. “And we are not even a party to that litigation. That’s a troublesome thing.”

We find it abhorrent that the federal government needs a lawsuit thrown in its face before relinquishing documents that should be available through sunshine laws.

Government must be transparent if it is to effectively represent its constituents.

These states should not have had to sue for information that should be readily available to every citizen.

That’s what open meetings, open records acts are all about — ensuring government conducts business out front instead of behind closed doors.

We are somewhat skeptical of Pruitt’s motives in being a party to this suit, however.

Pruitt has been very political in what should be a nonpartisan office.

He may be trying to gain political points again.

Let’s hope not.

But whether he is making a political move or protecting the citizens of Oklahoma is not the issue.

Transparent government should be the issue.

And it should not take government suing government to highlight the problem.