U.S. Right to Know opposes AB 700, legislation to weaken the California Public Records Act (CPRA). The legislation, sponsored by California Assemblymember Laura Friedman, would exempt much of the work product of California’s public universities from the CPRA.
On April 2nd, the California Assembly Committee on Judiciary passed the legislation by a vote of 9-3, and referred it to the Committee on Appropriations.
The CPRA is a crucial tool for journalists and citizens, as well as public interest, consumer, environmental, public health and good government advocates in California and across the country to expose corruption, wrongdoing and abuse of power. We oppose efforts to weaken it, and are concerned that any successful effort to do so could invite others, leading to a slippery slope that could diminish this law in unforeseen ways, at cost to our health, our environment and our democracy.
At California’s public universities, the CPRA is central to efforts to unearth research misconduct and fraud, sexual harassment scandals, financial improprieties and misallocation of funds, government waste, corporate influence in research process, the commercialization of the university, the influence of wealthy donors, and administrative cover-ups of all of the above. If enacted, this legislation will shield such scandals from exposure and accountability, and invite more.
- Los Angeles Times: Scientists have #MeToo issues too. Don’t exempt them from accountability laws. By Charles Seife, April 1, 2019.
- San Diego Union-Tribune: Don’t weaken open records laws at California’s public universities. April 8, 2019.
See the U.S. Right to Know letter of opposition here.
The following organizations are opposing AB700. See letters of opposition by:
- American Civil Liberties Union
- California Newspapers Publishers Association
- Coalition letter: Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, Real Food Media, U.S. Right to Know
- Society of Professional Journalists Northern California chapter
- Society of Professional Journalists/Los Angeles chapter
- San Diego Society of Professional Journalists
- Good Food Brigade
- Coalition letter: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Social Compassion in Legislation, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Articles about AB 700 or the motivation behind it:
- Medium: The Union of Concerned Scientists Quixotic, Relentless Campaign Against Transparency. By Paul Thacker, March 12, 2019.
- GM Watch: Why does the Union of Concerned Scientists keep vilifying US Right to Know? March 26, 2019.
- Undark: A Battle Over California’s Public Records Law. By Zoe Loftus-Farren, April 15, 2019.
California Assembly Committee on Judiciary report on AB 700.