Transparency versus privacy task force latest example of missing emails

    The task force attempting to balance government transparency with crime-victim privacy provides a simple – even harmless – example of how Connecticut legislators can avoid disclosure of their email.

    In this case, the missing emails are of no real consequence, but they shed light on how legislators can hide their work from the public when the need arises.

    The General Assembly manages its own records. Although some documents make it to the State Library through donations, the library has no authority over legislative records.

    In the executive branch and each municipality, officials need to request permission from the state library before destroying records.

    Routine correspondence, for example, must be kept for two years, whether it is on paper or exists digitally.

    The Office of Legislative Management only archives emails for 21 days, a reality often made clear by its responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.

    The latest example comes from the Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know.

    The legislature created the task force in the wake of the shooting last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown to retroactively assess new restrictions on government transparency.

    The task force had its last meeting 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Legislative Office Building. Its recommendations were due January 1.

    Four legislators serve on the task force: Rep. Angel Arce, a Hartford Democrat who is co-chairman of the group; Sen. Eric Coleman, a Bloomfield Democrat; Rep. DebraLee Hovey, a Newtown Republican; and Sen. Leonard Fasano, a North Haven Republican.

    By requesting the email of all four legislators on the task force on the same day, it is easy to show how some emails might never make it into public view.

    Take, for example, the email sent by Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane, a task force member, to all the other members. That email turned up in three of the four responses.

    Its absence is no evidence of a conspiracy, but it does reveal that all legislative inboxes are not equal. Some see the light of day while others never get the chance.

    Correction: This article was corrected to include the correct date for the task force’s last meeting. It was Dec. 17.