CJ Griffin Quoted in NJ Spotlight News on Recent Legislation to Hide Lawmakers’ Addresses
CJ Griffin, Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, was quoted in a NJ Spotlight New article, “Lawmakers move to hide their addresses.” The article discusses the proposed bill that would make the addresses of lawmakers, elected officials and candidates exempt from public disclosure.
“To use the Pelosi tragedy to justify this move for secrecy seems over-reactionary,” said CJ Griffin, a lawyer who handles public access issues and has won several public records access lawsuits in the state Supreme Court. “If there are threats against lawmakers, the solution is to beef up security. Darkness just makes it easier for corruption to occur, as it’ll be very difficult for reporters to investigate whether politicians are involved in shady land deals or whether they are complying with various residency requirements … Secrecy breeds distrust. The response to any anger from the public should be to lean into transparency and make their financial disclosures more robust, so as to build trust with the public.
Griffin said the move to end the disclosure of addresses is “disappointing, but frankly not surprising” because the Legislature has a poor track record regarding transparency.
“Sadly, since OPRA was signed into law in 2002, all the Legislature has done is chip away at public access,” Griffin said. “There’s never any legislation to make more records public or to fix OPRA’s serious flaws, such as the fact that agencies flat out ignore the statute’s deadlines and abuse the deliberative process privilege. And the only access we’ve gained to police records [has] come from the courts. OPRA is our main tool to guard against corruption, waste, and misconduct and that tool is becoming less effective with the passage of each of these bills.”
To view the article, click here