Arizona officials push for sunshine

Officials in Arizona are pushing for increased transparency in the state, in the wake of questions raised over dealings between state officials and lobbyists. Secretary of State Ken Bennett and State Representative Kimberly Yee are pushing a new measure that would put more sunlight on the financial disclosure statements and lobbyist filings of the state’s elected officials.

Under current rules, elected officials are required to disclose their finances and some interactions with lobbyists. However, those records are only available by submitting a request. Individuals who submit a request must either purchase a copy of the records and have them sent or travel to the Secretary of State’s office and view them in the office. A bill proposed by Representative Yee calls for an electronic database of this information.

The measure calls for an appropriation from the state’s general fund to create the database. The database would not only be searchable but would also allow officials, lobbyists and companies to file their statements online. The Secretary of State supports the measure calling it necessary for state transparency.

State officials recently came under scrutiny for how they handled influence over the Fiesta Bowl, a situation which led to calls for easier access to the dealings of elected officials and Yee’s bill. The Secretary of State’s office began posting financial disclosure information on its own website several months ago but there is no overarching system in place to handle how this information is posted and the Secretary’s website was never constructed with that intent originally.

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