Attorney general discusses transparency at UK forum



By Chase Sanders

Attorney General Jack Conway spoke Tuesday evening about the importance of transparency and its implementation in government.

The lecture took place in the W. T. Young Library Auditorium, and Republican candidate for attorney general Todd P’Pool did not attend the event because of scheduling conflicts.

Conway started the discussion with a quote from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandies, who said “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

The attorney general’s office makes the final decision for about 250 disputes over open records requests in Kentucky annually.

He pointed out that government is meant to serve the people, and citizens have a right to know what the civil servants they elect are doing with taxpayer dollars.

“The presumption is that the government’s business is done in the open,” he said.

Conway knows the assumption most Kentuckians make about open government and transparency is not always a truth.

He said he thinks he has done what he can to make sure the public is able to make inquires and hold the electorate accountable. While in office, Conway’s office has made several decisions mandating that public enterprises such as the Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, Passport Medicare Program, public school superintendent evaluations and other public businesses provide open records and meeting requests.

He noted that a company is subject to open records and meeting requests if it falls under what he called the “25 percent rule.”

“An agency is considered public if you receive 25 percent of your revenue from Kentucky state government or from Local Authority Funds,” Conway said.

Conway intends to make the penalties for noncompliance with open records and meetings laws more effective.

“Right now, they only require a $250 fine and up to 90 days in jail,” he said. He also called on politicians to hold themselves accountable for their actions as a part of government transparency.

“I hope elected officials understand their responsibility to the public,” Conway said.

Conway also has an understanding for what he needs to do to make financial woes better for students in the commonwealth.

In an interview with the Kernel, he said he wants to “weed out the fraudulent for-profit colleges statewide that just want to make money off of government educational funds.” That would free up more money for all students.

Students like David Baker, a broadcast journalism and finance senior, were appreciative of Conway’s remarks and that he took time to speak.

“He done a lot of good for the commonwealth and his record shows that,” Baker said. “It’s great that he commended UK and showed his support for the university tonight.”