Gradually, Then Suddenly


Gradually, Then Suddenly
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks at a news conference at the State Capitol (Randall Lee)

Ernest Hemingway’s observation about bankruptcy (How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”) could apply equally to how public oversight of government enabled by Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act could be eradicated. 

Last week, Arkansans saw an attempt by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the Legislature to gut what is one of the nation’s best government transparency laws. By midweek, the proposal had been significantly narrowed after meeting opposition from Arkansans across the political spectrum

This is an Opinion

We'd also like to hear yours. Leave a comment below, tweet to us at @ArkBusiness or
email us.

The bill, likely to pass as of this writing, focuses only on security, limiting public access to “records that reflect the planning or provision of security services provided” to constitutional officers and judges. It lets the state refuse to provide records on who travels with the officers on an Arkansas State Police airplane. Dropped were attempts to shield communications between the governor and heads of state agencies and to withhold records from “deliberative process” work in policymaking and records of government interactions with attorneys.

But anyone who thinks this is the last attempt to make it harder for the public to know what our government is doing is naive. Open government, like democracy, requires constant vigilance.

More On This Story