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Tom Corbett Continues Attacks On Transparency

It recently came to light that Pennsylvania’s wildly unpopular Governor, Tom Corbett, has gone to remarkable lengths in order to avoid transparency laws and conduct his business behind closed doors. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “The governor said he rarely uses email because he knows reporters would file Right-To-Know requests to get them. Instead, he said, he uses the telephone.”

Well if Governor Corbett is going to conduct all his business on the phone to skirt transparency laws, then American Bridge is going to FOIA for his phone records — which is exactly what we did.

Well the results are in. And surprise, surprise, Corbett‘s office did as little as humanly possible to comply with the request. They disclosed only partial mobile phone logs, no land-line logs, denied our request for notes related to the phone calls, and redacted the origin and destination of every call.

If Governor Corbett has nothing to hide, he sure has a strange way of showing it. Regardless, we are releasing the little information they forked over: Governor Corbett Phone Logs

Background

Corbett Claimed he Supported “Total Transparency”

Corbett Campaign Spokesperson Bill Pitman: “The Governor Supports Full Transparency And Will Work With The Legislature To Review And Update The Rules On The Books In Order To Restore The People’s Trust In Their Government.” According to the Pocono Record, Bill Pitman, a spokesperson for the governor’s re-election campaign, stated: “The governor supports full transparency and will work with the Legislature to review and update the rules on the books in order to restore the people’s trust in their government.” [Pocono Record, 4/8/14]

Corbett Campaign Press Secretary Jay Pagni: “The Governor Has Done More For Government Reform Than Any Predecessor […] In Respect To Transparency And Accountability.” According to Newsworks, “‘The governor has done more for government reform than any predecessor. He’s eliminated wasteful per-diems, supports the cash gift ban and implemented a number of government reforms in respect to transparency and accountability,’ Pagni said.” [Newsworks, 5/29/14]

Corbett: “I Hope That My Opponents For Governor Will Join Me In The Spirit Of Total Transparency In Providing A Long-Term Snapshot Of Their Financial Interests.” According to a website post from Corbett for Governor, “‘I have released my tax returns to the public going back to 2004, because I believe that the people of Pennsylvania deserve to know the long-term financial interests of those seeking to serve as their governor,’ stated Governor Tom Corbett. ‘Candidate disclosure of tax returns is an issue that has been supported in the past by both Democrats and Republicans across Pennsylvania, so I hope that my opponents for governor will join me in the spirit of total transparency in providing a long-term snapshot of their financial interests.’” [Corbett for Governor, 4/22/14]

Corbett: “Part Of My Pledge To Make Government More Open And Transparent Includes Making It Easier For Pennsylvanians To See Who Is Contributing.” According to the Sacramento Bee, “‘Part of my pledge to make government more open and transparent includes making it easier for Pennsylvanians to see who is contributing to political campaigns, and how campaign money is being spent,’ Corbett said. ‘Citizens have a right to know who is funding campaigns, and this redesigned website will make that much easier.’” [Sacramento Bee, 2/18/14]

Corbett Claimed He Wanted To Provide “An Open, Transparent, Accountable And Trustworthy Government.” According to Philly.com, “When he was running for governor two years ago, Tom Corbett’s position papers said he would provide ‘an open, transparent, accountable and trustworthy government.’” [Philly.com, 9/16/12]

Corbett Failed To Provide Transparency

PennLive Editorial Board: “It’s Time To Replace The Sign For The Governor’s Mansion With One That Reads ‘Fortress Corbett.’” According to a PennLive editorial, “It’s time to replace the sign for the governor’s mansion with one that reads ‘Fortress Corbett.’ The governor campaigned for office as a reformer. On Inauguration Day he promised to ‘restore transparency, accountability and fiscal discipline in Harrisburg.’ He must have had his fingers crossed when he said that line. Since he’s been in office, he has rewritten the playbook for government secrecy.” [PennLive Editorial, 12/13/12]

PennLive Editorial Board: “The Corbett Administration Has Gone Out Of Its Way To Chip Away At The Right To Know Law And Put Up Barriers To Information Requests — Whether From Reporters Or The Public.” According to PennLive Editorial, “Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law passed in 2008 with the goal of opening up government and making it accessible to the taxpayers that fund it. The state went from having a reputation as one of the worst in the country to one of the most transparent because of the new law. But the Corbett administration has gone out of its way to chip away at the Right to Know Law and put up barriers to information requests — whether from reporters or the public.” [PennLive Editorial, 12/13/12]

2012: In Response To An Open Records Request, Corbett’s Administration Failed To Release Corbett’s Official Schedule. According to a PennLive editorial, “Not so with Corbett. In February 2011, Mark Scolforo, capitol correspondent for The Associated Press, put in a Right to Know request to see the governor’s daily schedules and his emails since taking office. It was a fairly routine request. But the Corbett administration didn’t take it that way. It released very little and claimed the governor’s schedule was a matter of personal security, even going as far as to cite the shooting of Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1972 and the assassination of Louisiana Gov. Huey Long in 1935 as cautionary tales. What makes this story even more twisted is the Corbett administration continues to fight Scolforo in court over the request.” [PennLive Editorial, 12/13/12]

Corbett Administration Did Not Want To Release Government Email Addresses And Taxpayer-Funded Phone Numbers When Requested. According to PennLive Editorial, “This is not an isolated incident. As The Patriot-News highlighted this summer, the Corbett administration is also in court because it refused to give out government email addresses and taxpayer-funded phone numbers when requested. This information shouldn’t be protected like Fort Knox.” [PennLive Editorial, 12/13/12]