Attorney General's Opinion 1987-88 #033


Newspaper or public bulletin permitted to print name and salary information; disclosure of salary information limited.

July 22, 1988

The Honorable Charles H. Stubblefield
Commissioner of the Revenue for Gloucester County

87-88 33

You ask whether a newspaper or public bulletin is authorized to print a state or county employee's name and salary.

I. Prior Opinions Interpret Disclosure Provisions of Statute

The disclosure of public records is governed by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, §§2.1-340 through 2.1-346.1 of the Code of Virginia (the "Act"). Prior Opinions of this Office interpret §2.1-342(c) to require, among other things, the disclosure of records of the position, job classification, official salary or rate of pay of public officials or employees whose annual salary exceeds $10,000. See, e.g., Att'y Gen. Ann. Rep.: 1982-1983 at 708, 709, and at 731; 1980-1981 at 394.

It is the express policy of the Act "to ensure the people of this Commonwealth ready access to records in the custody of public officials" and to recognize "that the affairs of government are not intended to be conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy since at all times the public is to be the beneficiary of any action taken at any level of government." Section 2.1-340.1.

II. Printing Name and Salary Information Permitted; Disclosure of Salary Information Limited

I am in agreement with the conclusions of these prior Opinions. I am of the opinion, therefore, that a newspaper or public bulletin is authorized to print a state or county employee's name and salary.1 A state or local government employee's annual salary is not subject to disclosure under the Act, however, unless it is in excess of $10,000.



1. See Kline v. Robert M. McBride & Co., 170 Misc. 974, 11 N.Y.S.2d 674 (1939) ("liberty of the press" consists of right to publish with impunity, truth, with good motives and for justifiable ends, whether it concerns government, magistracy or individuals).