The following is a press release from House Minority Leader Greg Lavelle as he releases a bi-partisan bill to clean up a now obvious hole in Delaware’s FOIA law. The reason that he has to introduce this bill is that Senator DeLuca continues to refuse to produce his full attendance records for his job at the Department of Labor and his position as Senate Pro Tem.
In fact, instead of releasing his records, Senator DeLuca is taking a page from New York Representative Weiner by blaming everyone else for his troubles. At first, Senator DeLuca tried to hide behind Delaware’s Attorney General by claiming his life was in danger if he let taxpayers know when he was at work. When the “my life is at risk” excuse didn’t work, he tried the “folks in the private sector are getting paid to protect their employer’s interests” excuse (failing to recognize the puny number of legislators that actually have private sector employers).
Sadly, Senator, it is not everyone else’s fault that you have come under such scrutiny. You made your bed, and now you must sleep in it.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 9, 2011
Contact: Stephanie Mantegna, House of Representatives, 302-577-8515
BI-PARTISAN LEGISLATION SEEKS TO EXPAND PUBLIC INFORMATION DEFINITION
TO PROTECT AGAINST “DOUBLE-DIPPING” OF STATE LAWMAKERS
State Representative Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley) today announced he has introduced bi-partisan legislation aimed at making state government more open and transparent to the public.
The legislation, also sponsored by State Senators Michael S. Katz (D-Centerville) and Karen E. Peterson (D-Stanton), would expand the definition of “public record” under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to include information collected or compiled by a state agency as it relates to the hours worked in a state merit position held by an elected official who is also a state merit employee.
Under the legislation, public record information may include electronic-swipe or time clock documents that record entering and exiting the workplace.
The bill comes in response to recent news report in which the Department of Labor and the Attorney General’s Office refused to fulfill a FOIA request from the media, asking that the workplace time sheets for Senate Pro Tem Anthony J. DeLuca (D-Varlano) be released to the public. A FOIA request was submitted last month by a member of the media, asking that the attendance records of Senator DeLuca – a merit employee of the Labor Department – be released to ensure that the legislator was not “double-dipping,” the illegal practice of being paid for one state employment position while serving in another without officially docking the time.
Rep. Lavelle was also critical of Senator DeLuca’s proposed legislation that was a seeming attempt to preempt – as well as go further than – Rep. Lavelle’s measure. That bill is expected to allow the time records of legislators, who are employed in the private sector, to also be subject to FOIA. Today’s News Journal editorial also pointed out the absurdity of the bill, stating that the legislation “is the most ridiculous and intrusive invasion of privacy” and to “try to force other privately employed legislators to comply with what is essentially a public disclosure law is silly and childish.”
According to Rep. Lavelle, “The Senator’s bill is nothing short of a distraction. The issue here is public integrity and accountability of tax dollars. If former Representative Nancy Wagner and others were required by the Attorney General to release their records, my proposal simply extends that requirement to other legislators. My legislation makes public the attendance records of those legislators who are also in a state job. Very simply, if there is nothing to hide then no one has anything to worry about. It’s a common-sense bill that I am surprised it’s taken this long to enact.”