Transparency News, 2/1/2023


February 1, 2023

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
Contact us at


state & local news stories


VCOG's annual legislative chart of FOIA and access-related bills

The Virginia Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would tighten the purchasing rules the state’s tourism agency must follow. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Jeremy McPike, has said he filed the measure in response to a controversy last year involving the Virginia Tourism Corp.’s use of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s political ad-maker to produce a video that featured the governor. The state’s government watchdog agency looked into the contract with Poolhouse after Democrats raised objections. The watchdog found that while Virginia Tourism CEO Rita McClenny bypassed standard procurement guidance, exemptions in state law allowed her to do so. McPike said in a committee hearing that Virginia Tourism should face the same rules as any other public entity.
Associated Press

The Spotsylvania County School Board again adjourned a meeting Monday without completing the approved agenda. The meeting was a work session to discuss the budget for fiscal year 2024, which begins July 1. Superintendent Mark Taylor presented his $390.4 million budget request — which calls for $21.6 million in new funding from the county — at a special meeting last week. The board went into recess at least four times during the three-and-a-half-hour meeting on Monday. Vice Chair April Gillespie called for the recesses each time a member who usually votes in the minority attempted to speak for longer than the five minutes that Chair Lisa Phelps allotted for questions about the budget. Phelps announced at the beginning of the meeting that she was imposing a time limit for questions “in order to be efficient and mindful.” Board members in total submitted 40 questions about the budget after last week’s presentation. Staff distributed answers to the questions — which have been posted on the School Board’s website — at the start of Monday’s work session. Phelps said each board member could pick three questions — either from the submitted list or a new question — to bring up with Taylor and Chief Business Officer Prashant Shrestha during a question-and-answer session. Phelps declared the meeting adjourned after the board returned from a fourth recess. She called for the microphones to be cut off while board member Lorita Daniels was stating that the board still had work to do.
The Free Lance-Star

What would have been yet another closed session on a potential Nottoway County water authority was called-off Thursday after Supervisor John Roark blew the whistle and received swift support from colleague Lynn Shekleton. Roark voiced his concerns as Supervisors were preparing to approve the evening’s agenda. “Everybody knows what’s going on. Everybody knows where Blackstone stands, where Crewe stands, where Burkeville stands, where the state stands, where Prince Edward stands. I feel like we shouldn’t take anything about water-related services into closed session.” Supervisor Shekleton seconded Roark’s motion to remove the topic from closed session. “I, too, have been getting comments about us going in closed session discussing water,” she said.
Courier Record

stories of national interest

Missouri taxpayers could be on the hook for paying $300,000 in legal fees after a judge ruled last year that the Missouri Attorney General’s Office violated the state’s open records law under Republican Josh Hawley. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sued the office in 2019, alleging that it purposely concealed emails between the office and Hawley’s political consultants while he was running for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Cole County Judge Jon Beetem sided with the DSCC in November, agreeing that the attorney general’s office concealed the emails and ordered the office to pay the maximum amount allowed by state law, $12,000 in civil penalties and reasonable attorney’s fees. A motion filed Jan. 13 requests $306,000 in attorney’s fees and taxable costs be awarded to the DSCC. 
St. Louis Post-Dispatch