Home>Feature>Sweeney opposes removing legislative OPRA exemption

Senate President Steve Sweeney. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Sweeney opposes removing legislative OPRA exemption

By Nikita Biryukov, January 06 2020 1:42 pm

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said $44,000 in taxpayer money was used to pay for late State Sen. Tony R. Bucco’s legal defense. That is incorrect. Bucco paid for his own defense.

Senate President Steve Sweeney won’t back the removal of the legislative exemption in New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.

“No,” Sweeney said when asked if he supported removing the carveout. “There you go.”

Any communications made or received by a member of the legislature in the course of their official work are exempt under OPRA.

That exemption covers emails, text messages and other records exchanged with lobbyists and other political influencers.

Such communications are often subject to disclosure under OPRA at the local level, though that information can also be shielded by other exemptions allowed under state law.

At times, the public information firewall imposed by the exemption has blocked the release of politically-damaging information.

For instance, the terms of an out-of-court settlement between late State Sen. Tony R. Bucco and a staffer who accused him of sexual harassment have never been public.

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