Morris and government accountability

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Transparency, when it comes to the inner workings of government, is the word often used to describe what most seem to crave. And rightfully so. Given the various representative bodies that govern our cities, states and our country, if we are to have an empowered citizenry, it is of the utmost importance that we be aware of what our elected and appointed representatives are up to.

Yet what that transparency provides, and what it is that we should truly seek, is accountability from those whose actions shape our lives. Only by disclosing all that they do and say, by being completely transparent, can that accountability exist.

Many in government engage their constituents in a never-ending game of cat and mouse when it comes to fully disclosing their activities. Scarce few lawmakers work to see that their colleagues — and they themselves — are held to a higher level of public scrutiny. Western Tidewater sends one such lawmaker to Richmond to do the people’s business each year.

In the four years since first being elected, Del. Rick Morris (R-64) has been a strong advocate for government transparency and accountability. He has submitted numerous pieces of legislation aimed at either eliminating the process of appointing unelected governing bodies or ensuring that they at least are able to be held accountable for their actions. Not surprisingly, many with whom he serves were less enthusiastic and defeated his bills.

This session, Morris has introduced a bill that would make it a crime for a government employee or an appointed or elected official to knowingly and intentionally withhold requested information under the Freedom of Information Act. The bill passed in the House of Delegates last week and will soon be heard in the Senate. It is meaningful legislation, and should be passed into law.

Regardless of the outcome, Morris has consistently proven to be on the side of taxpayers who demand accountability from those who represent them in government. His crusade on this front is worthy of our admiration. We urge him to fight on.