Washington Sunshine Committee
The Washington Sunshine Committee (officially known as the Public Records Accountability Executive Committee) is a committee formed in the state of Washington to examine exemptions to the state's Washington Public Records Act. When the Public Disclosure Act was approved by voters by initiative in 1972 there were only 10 exemptions to it. In 2007, when Attorney General Rob McKenna proposed the formation of the Sunshine Committee, there were over 300 exemptions.
The Sunshine Committee made its first two recommendations in March 2008. They were that "finalists for top government jobs should be revealed to taxpayers, and the public should get more information about probes into child deaths."
In November 2008 the Committee agreed 7-3 that attorney-client correspondence and "work product" should be exempt from public disclosure.
The Sunshine Committee has been criticized for multiple things:
- Failure to make any substantial recommendations to the law or find any exemptions to eliminate.
- The appointment of Tom Carr, a lawyer known for successful litigation to use attorney-client privilege to withhold documents from the public, as chair of the committee.
- The refusal of the governor to release records showing who inquired about serving on the Sunshine Committee.
Members of the Sunshine Committee
- Thomas Carr, Seattle city attorney (Chair – appointment by Gov. Gregoire)
- Senator Adam Kline (Appointed by Senate Democratic Caucus)
- Senator Pam Roach (Appointed by Senate Republican Caucus)
- Rep. Lynn Kessler (Appointed by House Democratic Caucus)
- Rep. Jay Rodne (Appointed by House Republican Caucus)
- Tim Ford, Assistant Attorney General (Appointed by Attorney General Rob McKenna)
- John Hughes, Editor & Publisher of The Daily World (Appointed by Attorney General Rob McKenna)
- Ken Bunting, Associate Publisher, Seattle P-I (Appointed by State Auditor Brian Sonntag)
- Frank Garred (Appointed by Gov. Gregoire)
- Roselyn Marcus, Office of Financial Management (Appointed by Gov. Gregoire)
- Patience Rogge, Friends of Fort Worden (Appointed by Gov. Gregoire)
- Candy Jackson, N.A.T.I.V.E. Project (Appointed by Gov. Gregoire)
- Ramsey Ramerman, Foster Pepper PLLC (Appointed by Gov. Gregoire)
- About the Sunshine Committee
- Legislation creating the Committee
- No more state Sunshine Committee?, Washington Policy Center's Blog, January 14, 2009
- Democratic Senator wants to kill state ‘Sunshine Committee’, Bellingham Herald Politics Blog, January 14, 2009
- Change Washington law to open government, Seattle Times, November 16, 2008
- Sunshine Committee has hardest work ahead of it, The News Tribune, April 1, 2008
- Washington Office of the Attorney General Press Release
- Washington Sunshine Committee recommends first public records changes, Associated Press, March 25, 2008
- Sunshine Committee adopts attorney-client privilege recommendation, Washington Policy Center's Blog, November 12, 2008
- Lawmaker warns state Sunshine panel to speed it up or shut down, Seattle Times, January 21, 2009
- Public Records Act changes suggested, The Olympian, January 21, 2009
- Restore access to public information, Seattle Times, August 23, 2008
- Gov. Gregoire Won't Release Records About "Sunshine Committee", Og-Blog, September 3, 2007