Another Reason Why Mass. Governor Not Subject to State Public Records Law

By Colman M. Herman

I recently wrote an article for CommonWealth magazine in which I report that Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey ruled that the governor is not subject to the Massachusetts public records law.

I want to briefly discuss here one of the reasons that Healey based her decision on that I did not report in my article, because it would likely be of interest only to public records advocates.

The Massachusetts public records law states that “executive offices” are covered by the statute. Advocates have argued through the years that the governor’s office is an executive office and thus covered by the public records law.

But Healey pointed to a separate law that defines an executive office as being headed up by a secretary.

“Because the governor’s office is not headed by a secretary, neither the governor nor the governor’s office are included in the definition of ‘executive office,’” her office wrote to the supervisor of public records, Rebecca Murray.

The Massachusetts legislature created a special commission to examine the constitutionality of subjecting the governor’s office, the legislature and the judiciary to public records law.  But it has yet to convene.

Colman M. Herman is a freelance writer and reporter living in Boston.

Above photo provided by Flickr user Daniel Mennerich and used with cropping under a CC 2.0 license

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