Good Govt Groups Defend FOIL in Journal News/Putnam County Dispute

For Immediate Release:


January 8, 2013

Susan Lerner, 212-691-6421 (CC/NY)

Russ Haven, 518-436-0876 (NYPIRG)

Sally Robinson, 914-441-5144 (LWV)

Good Govt Groups Defend FOIL in Journal News/Putnam County Dispute

In response to the ongoing controversy regarding a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request by the Journal News to the Putnam County Clerk for public information on gun license information, Common Cause/NY, the League of Women Voters of NY, the New York Public Interest Research Group, and the Partnership for the Public Good released the following statement:

By taking the position that gun permit information will not be provided in response to a Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) request, Putnam County is ignoring state law. The Penal Law is clear: “the name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted shall be a public record.” Similarly, the FOIL law, which governs access to public records is also clear, and like any law, is not subject to selective application. This is no different than information about parking tickets, property records, or professional licenses.

The Freedom of Information Law presumes that government records are public information unless they fall within narrow exceptions.

“Sunshine” laws, like FOIL, are essential for making government transparent and accountable. We oppose efforts to undermine the integrity of the state’s Freedom of Information Law, and fear the slippery slope of carving out exceptions as an attempt to undermine the public interest. New York needs more transparency and publicly available information, not less.