Below is a statement issued today by Common Cause/RI and the ACLU of Rhode Island regarding the controversy over the Governor’s refusal to publicly release a report he commissioned on Medicaid and food stamp fraud:
"Our organizations are deeply troubled by Governor Chafee’s decision to keep secret a report he commissioned, examining waste and fraud in the state’s Medicaid and food stamp programs. We cannot conceive of any rationale under our state’s Access to Public Records Act for withholding this document from public view.
"The only explanation we have publicly heard is that the Governor does not want to jeopardize potential criminal investigations. But a document that is otherwise public cannot be withheld based on future investigations. In fact, the open records law itself explicitly addresses this issue by providing that “all records initially deemed to be public records … shall continue to be so deemed whether or not subsequent court action or investigations are held pertaining to the matters contained in the records.
"While it is possible that there may be particular portions of the report that are exempt from disclosure under APRA, the complete withholding of this document is, in our view, a clear violation of the law. The Governor’s decision in favor of secrecy also undermines the goal of transparency in government that he has touted since he has been in office. We urge the Governor to abide by both the spirit and letter of the open records law and release this document to the public.”