Transparency News 10/14/19



October 14, 2019


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
Contact us at


state & local news stories


Get your tickets to VCOG's Media Awards Luncheon, Nov. 18, in Richmond.

A grand jury in Accomack on Oct. 7 indicted former Hallwood town clerk Angela H. Taylor on 65 felony counts of embezzling from the town. Taylor, 46, is a Hallwood resident who had been under investigation by Virginia State Police after her vehicle, containing town financial records, burned up last year — a few days before an audit was to be conducted, according to town officials. Taylor as clerk was responsible for paying the town’s bills, maintaining meeting minutes and performing other secretarial jobs — and she was an authorized signature on town checks, with only one signature required, Special Agent A. W. Pittman said in the criminal complaint.
Eastern Shore News

One watchdog group is worried about government ethics in Virginia. And, it’s challenging candidates for the General Assembly to do something about it. So far, 24 General Assembly candidates have taken the Virginia Integrity Challenge. That’s the name of an effort by the Coalition for Integrity challenging candidates to post their campaign finance records and gift disclosures to their websites. Shruti Shah at the Coalition for Integrity says candidates who have signed up are also vowing to support legislation to give Virginia ethics agencies the power to investigate and sanction.


stories of national interest

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told a room of journalists and members of the public that she is "deeply ashamed" that Michigan is the only state that exempts the governor, lieutenant governor and state lawmakers from Freedom of Information Act requests. "We are not opening the doors to state government," Nessel said Saturday. "In fact, we are locking them with deadbolts, and then we are nailing boards across them, and then there’s a moat … that’s what FOIA feels like with our state government."
The Detroit News

Nearly five years have passed since then-Gov. John Kitzhaber (Oregon) left office amid an influence peddling scandal and a backlog of public records requests from journalists seeking information about the governor and first lady’s dealings. In response to the records pileup, lawmakers in 2017 passed Oregon’s first public records deadline, giving governments 15 days to hand over documents or cite a legal reason to withhold them.  The new law, spearheaded by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, contains broad exceptions to the 15-day deadline that lawmakers granted at the request of school districts, small cities and other local governments. Those small public bodies worried about being held to strict deadlines they lacked the staffing to meet. Two years in, however, Oregon’s highest elected official — Gov. Kate Brown — is also relying on those exemptions to justify taking months to turn over public records. And there are signs a high-profile agency under her direction, the Department of Human Services, might also employ them.
The Oregonian

U.S. President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on Wednesday requiring federal agencies to go through a similar process of public input and explanation when they issue key “guidance documents” and pledged White House scrutiny. Trump said his orders require agencies to seek public input on “the most important guidance and the whole process will be closely overseen by the White House.” Trump’s orders say the public can ask agencies to withdraw guidance they believe is wrong. The White House said agencies must give the public “fair notice of any complaint against them and a chance to respond.”