HARTFORD, CT — Lawmakers may have exempted the Partnership for Connecticut from Freedom of Information laws, but Attorney General William Tong says those laws still apply to lawmakers who serve on the 13-member board.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, one of five elected state officials serving on the Partnership for Connecticut board that will distribute the $100 million gift from the Dalio Philanthropies, asked Tong for his opinion about how to treat materials from an exempt organization that she receives as a public official..
“You remain subject to FOIA in your role as the House minority leader and must disclose records in your possession relating to your service on the corporation’s board of directors unless one of the statutory exemptions to FOIA applies,” Tong wrote.
However, the Partnership for Connecticut is still exempt from FOIA.
“Our conclusion that records in your possession relating to the Partnership for Connecticut are subject to FOIA does not change the fact that the corporation itself is exempted from FOIA,” Tong added. “Thus, FOIA’s record disclosure provisions and open meeting requirements do not apply to the corporation and are unaffected by your participation on the board. It is only records relating to the corporation that are in your possession that would be subject to disclosure in response to a citizen request, and only if they were not otherwise statutorily exempt from FOIA.”
“We have fought too long for people to trust us for what we do. I’m not going to compromise transparency and open government for anyone,” Klarides said Wednesday.
She said she will continue to fight to change the law to bring the organization, which is serving a public function, into the sunlight.
She said the decision to have legislators leaders serve on the board was done behind closed-doors. She said the administration also decided to intercept the $20 million in public funds before it was counted as part of the state budget so that it wouldn’t count against the spending cap.
Despite criticism and concerns lawmakers exempted the Partnership for Connecticut from FOIA and added the legislative leaders to the board.
The Partnership for Connecticut is also expected to dole out about $20 million in state funds in addition to the $100 million from Dalio Philanthropies.
Gov. Ned Lamont has said he plans to help privately raise funds to match the Dalio donation.
The money is supposed to go to programs that help at-risk youth.