A Condemnation of Threats to Openness

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | justin@nefac.org


As Sunshine Week concludes today, the New England First Amendment Coalition joins open government advocates across the country to condemn actions taken by the federal executive branch and Congress to undermine the public’s right to know.

“Those in the highest levels of government have moved far beyond previous efforts to evade transparency, engaging in an unprecedented, systemic endeavor to undermine the basic norms of disclosure, accountability and truthfulness,” according to a letter drafted by Open The Government on behalf of NEFAC and more than 30 other transparency proponents.

“By devaluing openness and accountability, those in power today are diminishing the public trust in government and eroding the foundations of our democracy,” the groups added.

The March 11 letter addresses attacks on reporters and whistleblowers, affronts to the public’s right to know, increases in government corruption and threats to constitutional checks and balances. Of particular concern to NEFAC is the continued threats against journalists.

According to the letter:

Journalists are under unprecedented attack — described by the president as “enemies of the American people” — even as their roles as watchdogs and sources of information are more important than ever. They are facing death threats but do their jobs despite fears for their own safety.  . . . Chilling the truth-tellers means corruption, fraud and illegality go unstopped and unpunished, government waste continues unchecked, and fundamental government functions and services are compromised.

“Sunshine Week may only be a once-a-year event, but we need to remember the challenges faced every day by journalists and those seeking the truth,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “From the top levels of our government to the local communities we live in, transparency is vital to our democracy. We need to support the public’s right to know and the work of investigative journalists.”

NEFAC celebrated Sunshine Week with transparency reports from each New England state, an op/ed appearing in Gatehouse Media newspapers, and public discussions in New Hampshire about freedom of information laws.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, The Boston Globe, WBUR and Boston University.