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Mississippi Free Press, Mississippi Center for Justice to Appeal Closed-Door Caucus Meetings

The Mississippi Free Press will appeal the Mississippi Ethics Commission’s determination that the State Legislature is not a public body under the Open Meetings Act. That decision, which the commission finalized today, allows the House Republican Caucus to gather a full quorum of the Mississippi House of Representatives and deliberate on legislation in secret. 

Mississippi Free Press Editor and CEO Donna Ladd released a joint statement with counsel Rob McDuff of the Mississippi Center for Justice, the legal nonprofit that continues to represent this reporter and this outlet during the proceedings. 

Read the Mississippi Center for Justice’s press release in full.

“While we will appeal this decision, we also call on the Legislature to amend the Act so it is clear that it is subject to all of the transparency required of all other public bodies in Mississippi,” Ladd said in today’s statement. “The public and the press have a right to know, and there is no reason the Legislature should be held to a lesser standard than every city council and board of supervisors throughout the state. Any notion that a Legislature full of elected officials is not a public body is a strike against public transparency.”

The issue now goes to the Hinds County Chancery Court, where the question of the Legislature’s openness can also be interpreted in light of Mississippi Constitution Section 58, which declares that “the doors of each House, when in session, or in committee of the whole, shall be kept open, except in cases which may require secrecy.” Decisions at the level of this court may be appealed all the way to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

McDuff called on the Legislature to fix the lack of transparency before the court system forced their hands. “We are appealing because we believe the Ethics Commission got it wrong, but the legislature could easily fix this by requiring itself to live up to the standards it requires of other public bodies,” he wrote today.  

Ethics Commission Admits Ambiguity 

Today, the Mississippi Ethics Commission delivered its final opinion on this reporter’s complaint, formally declaring the State Legislature not

Read original article by clicking here.

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