That was my response when I saw that the California State Assembly, as an institution (read: Speaker John Perez), has refused to make available to the public the individual office budgets of members of the lower chamber.
Such hubris. Perhaps someone needs to remind the Speaker that the funds being spent by the legislature have been provided by California taxpayers, who should be able to understand exactly how their tax dollars are being spent.
I could understand withholding information if its release would, say, put someone in harms way (as might be the case with some funding to the Central Intelligence Agency). But this is the state legislature!
Apparently there is no legal requirement to provide the information (which was requested by the Sacramento Bee). The legislature managed to exempt its own records from the Public Records Act which is the law that requires that state and local agencies have to be transparent.
Nevertheless, even if there is no legal requirement to be forthcoming with the precise details about how the State Assembly spends every dime of its budget, there certainly is a moral one — it is the right thing to do.
The immediate issue before is now is whether this is a John Perez issue, or whether he enjoys the support of his fellow Assemblymembers in withholding this information. That will be easy to tell, because every individual Assemblymember presumably has a copy of their own individual office budget, and could make that available to the public right away.
So we urge individual Assemblymembers to publish their budgets. Ideally on their own websites. But if the Assembly Rules Committee (Speaker John Perez) will not let legislators put their own office budgets on their own websites, then please just send the information to the Sacramento Bee or to us here at the FlashReport. We would be happy to make it public.
Presumably Perez does not want to make the spending information public because it is embarrassing. Either because there are such significant disparities in how much legislators get as he is kind of his allies and mean to his adversaries — or perhaps a lot of tax dollars have been spent on items of which the public would disapprove. Either way, it’s not appropriate to “keep it secret” — it’s actually quite immature.