David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition in San Francisco, called the exemption a “big barrier” to gaining insight into how Newsom’s office was communicating with public agencies.
Such a blanket rule “sweeps far too broadly and keeps out of public view a range of communications that really should not be exempt from public scrutiny,” Snyder said.
Lawmakers, newspapers and open-government advocates have pressed over the years to narrow the exemptions. But after the Los Angeles Times sued in 1988 to get appointment calendars and other records that would show the governor’s daily activities, the state Supreme Court ruled the public interest was better served by not disclosing the calendar.
Today, Newsom discloses his monthly calendars, as Gov. Jerry Brown did before him. But they come with caveats. Pointing to the earlier court decisions, Newsom’s lawyers write that they “will not disclose entries that reveal the deliberative process” and note the calendars are an incomplete look at the governor’s activities.
In New Jersey, the pandemic has given the governor another way to deny records requests. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has said his administration is dedicated to transparency, but the governor’s office also has blocked multiple requests for information.
It rejected the AP’s email request on the grounds it was “overbroad,” a kind of catch-all denial under the state’s Open Public Records Act. It also cited the 2005 Emergency Health Powers Act, which dates to Hurricane Katrina and says reports and other records made during an emergency are not considered public. The state has been under such an order for a year because of the pandemic.