Statement on public records case

The Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists urges the Indiana Supreme Court to stand on the side of the taxpaying public and government transparency, the essential and irreplaceable lubricant that keeps the motor of democracy running.

The Chapter asks the Indiana Supreme Court to review records and information related to a 2014 lawsuit against an executive order on immigration that former Gov. Mike Pence's office withheld from Indianapolis attorney William Groth, and order the disclosure of any public documents that were improperly redacted or refused.

The Indiana Pro Chapter resolutely believes government records should generally be made accessible to the public, and no compelling reason for withholding them was presented in this case.

The public interest is clear.

The Board of Directors of the Indiana Pro Chapter of SPJ is concerned about access to all public records, including those that elucidate why public officials elected by the residents of Indiana would choose to spend tax dollars on a lawsuit against the federal government, a matter that is plainly and self-evidently in the public interest.

A ruling against the “disinfectant” of public access would deprive the public of information they deserve and are entitled to, and embolden elected officials to try to withhold more from the public view. In an era where more individuals embrace transparency on social media, it is inconceivable the government they elect and that is supposed to serve them would be permitted to skulk into a murky darkness that shields them from accountability and goes against the grain of our entire system of governance.

The press and public should be able to see documents that clarify why their elected representatives pursue courses of action, including litigation that transfers tax dollars from public coffers to lawyers' private bank accounts.