Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Gunn, Reeves Hiding Emails

Reports out in recent days are shining light on the backroom deals Republican leaders are making in order to continue their attacks on public education while adding more evidence to the argument that Mississippi is cited as one of the most corrupt states in America. The problem involves Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) refusing to release emails over their involvement in crafting budget language that puts a blemish on public education funding.

While the Republican Party claims there are scandals over irregularities in Hillary Clinton's emails, the silence from Mississippi's Republican officials over this issue is deafening. It takes a certain amount of arrogance, hypocrisy, or both to suggest that Clinton's emails are fair game while theirs deserve to be concealed. Just another example of Mississippi's Republican leadership saying, "What's good for the goose is bad for the gander."

Even Marshall Ramsey gets in on the controversy.
Reeves had Sen. Giles Ward (R-Louisville) run interference for him by throwing up an ALL CAPS wall saying that Reeves's emails are not public records. It is likely that Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) will have House Management Committee Chairman Greg Snowden (R-Meridian) pull a similar move at their next committee meeting in two weeks. Snowden, mind you, has been the primary legislative advocate for ballot language that was intentionally meant to confuse voters when they head to the polls in November.

Opponents of public education have admitted that they are asserting their influence over non-partisan budget staff to frame funding public education in a negative light. In fact, the state's budget director said so herself that she is being contacted by anti-public education legislators.
“The Legislative Budget Office works for the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. As I do with all major decisions, I consulted with the leaders of the committee in crafting the language.”
Only weeks ago, it was Tate Reeves who championed transparency with respect to state agencies submitting budget requests online to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. Yet, when it comes to Reeves's office, he's off limits.
Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the update to the website also reinforces legislative leaders' commitment to transparency for how tax dollars are spent. He said the proposal was met with some opposition throughout state government but that "told me it was more important that we get it done."
"If you post it for all to see, it will make agencies and agency directors think twice about spending taxpayers' money in an irresponsible manner," Reeves said in an interview. "No agency director or politician wants to be called out for irresponsible spending habits."
This obstruction of transparency should be alarming for the public because it highlights the legislative branch is holding itself to a different standard. This refusal by the Republicans to disclose their government emails cloaks any communication that could have occurred between the Republican legislature and anti-public education forces like Empower Mississippi while they passed policies to cripple public education.

What Gunn and Reeves expect is for voters to believe that they followed protocol by having their respective oversight bodies make the judgement on whether to release government emails from Gunn, Reeves, and their staff. Don't be fooled by this facade.

Rather than admit whether they had or had not sent emails on government servers and through government email accounts, Gunn and Reeves are choosing to hide their attacks on public education from public view, and the Republican drumbeat against public education gets louder.

No comments: