|« Local Races feature GOP Primary contests||Are roads important to you? »|
Secret Party: Collin GOP needs to post candidate list
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Access to information is one of the hallmarks of the open government the framers of the U.S. Constitution had in mind. The idea was that government should be as transparent as possible, unless such transparency would jeopardize national security.
The Collin County Republican Party, unfortunately, seems to believe in keeping information from the public. Try to find a list of candidates for local office in the March 4 primary on the party’s Web site. As of mid-afternoon Friday, it wasn’t there…and the filing period ended on Wednesday.
Furthermore, party officials refuse to return phone calls from this newspaper and other media who are attempting to report the list of candidates for an election less than two months away. Because the parties, and not the county election office, are responsible for the primary ballot, this is an assault on the public’s right to know.
The Collin County Democratic Party lists its candidates, as do the Dallas County Republicans and Democrats. The Denton County Republicans have links to candidates’ Web sites, though not a comprehensive list of candidates. Denton County Democrats do not list candidates.
The names of people who are on the ballot are pieces of public information. Why party officials do not want to let the public know who is running is beyond comprehension.
Texas is a state in which one of its senators, John Cornyn, a Republican, has been among the nation’s most vocal advocates for open government, dating to his days as state attorney general. His successor as Texas’ top lawyer, Greg Abbott, also a Republican, has continued in his stead. He supports of the Texas Freedom of Information Foundation, and he consistently rules against government entities that try to stifle the news media and the public when they want to know what’s going on with the people to whom they pay taxes. Instead, county GOP leaders choose to follow the example of Vice President Dick Cheney and much of the Bush administration who would rather keep information secret and avoid transparency at any cost.
What is so disturbing is that the county GOP has just recently turned away from providing information. In 2006, when there were some brutal primaries for county offices - such as county judge and county clerk - candidate information was posted regularly. A list of people on the ballot was up the day after filing, and remained up, with links to Web sites, through the primary and ensuing runoff.
And two years ago, county GOP leaders were more than happy to talk with reporters about the ballot, the filing period and what the contests meant for the party.
What in the party philosophy has changed in two years?
Luckily, many of the candidates have sent out news releases announcing their attention, and other Web sites have come up with information. But there may be some candidates that have been missed. It would be tragic if people were to go to the polls on March 4 and see names with which they are not familiar.
As the organization responsible for the primary ballot, the county party needs to provide all the information it can, and party leaders need to be responsive to media requests for basic information. That way, voters can best be educated about the choices they face at the ballot box.
Many Republicans complain that the “liberal media” is biased against their party, and these people will likely view this editorial as yet another example. However, when it becomes difficult to impossible to obtain an official list of candidates for what promises to be an important election, it is not biased to call for openness.
And this is a promise: When/if the county GOP posts a lists of its candidates for the March 4 election, we will write another editorial thanking the party for its transparency.
No feedback yet
Comments are closed for this post.