Transparency News, 12/31/21

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December 31, 2021


state & local news stories


Parole Board Chairwoman Tonya Chapman wrote to some employees in April to say she had received a "confidential subpoena," and asked for months of emails and other records, according to an email obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It's unclear who sent the subpoena or why, but the board was embroiled in controversy in April over revelations that board members violated policy and state law in the process they used to release some people from prison onto parole. Chapman did not respond to voicemails left Monday and Tuesday requesting an interview or to emails on Monday and Tuesday including detailed written questions. The Times-Dispatch reported earlier this week that Chapman is spending her final weeks on the job conducting an investigation of parole board staffers - which Attorney Gen.-elect Jason Miyares said in a letter to her has put staffers in fear of their jobs. It's not clear if the subpoena is related to Chapman's investigation.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

stories from around the country

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has long used electronic chat rooms that destroy messages in 24 hours to communicate with state employees, records show, allowing his inner circle to keep communications beyond the reach of the public, state archivists and history. The app the governor and his staffers have been using, called Wickr, markets itself to government agencies and others seeking security from foreign and domestic cyberthreats. The platform in practice has provided Hogan — a moderate Republican with national ambitions — a forum to complain about media reports, direct pandemic response and coordinate with top staffers. Many states, including Maryland, have yet to reckon with technology that transparency advocates say allows officials to violate at least the spirit of open-records laws. That’s in part because of the difficulty of proving that officials are using the apps and the greater difficulty of seeing what’s being communicated.
The Washington Post