We got an interesting email from Stephanie Cegielski, representing a government watchdog group calling itself the Colorado Government Accountability Project (CGAP).
We don't know much about Cegielski or her group, but by the looks of their website, the organization appears to be positioning itself as something of a counter weight to Colorado Ethics Watch, the pernicious liberal advocacy group (cloaking itself as a neutral watchdog organization) that attacks anything that is conservative and moves.
CGAP recently sent an open records act request to Colorado WINS, the public sector union that exists only because of Bill Ritter's now infamous executive order unionizing the state bureaucracy. Cegielski argues in the request that if Colorado open records laws apply to Pinnacol, the quasi-governmental/quasi-private workers compensation insurance agency, it should apply just the same to Colorado WINS.
Intrepid readers will recall that a Colorado Court recently forced Pinnacol to comply with a wide-ranging records request from a Denver TV reporter. Pinnacol contended that the open records act didn't apply to them, but the Court disagreed, ordering Pinnacol to release a number of embarrassing documents.
Cegielski says that the Pinnacol decision puts WINS in the bullseye of the open records act, requiring them to release a treasure trove of documents that disclose everything from the union's political giving to its public policy objectives.
WINS, no surprise, is digging in their heels. Union goons are nothing if not intransigent. WINS says it won't comply with the open records request. So much for transparency, eh Mr. Soprano?
But Cegielski isn't backing down either.
“The public has a right to know how much money is being collected from state employees and what the dollars are being spent for,” she told us. “Colorado WINS is stonewalling in an effort to deter transparency and force litigation. Representing the interests of state employees is the equivalent of representing the interests of the state and therefore subjects one to the open records laws of the state.”
By all appearances this one isn't going away. Cegielski has a good legal argument plus a fresh judicial precedent that gives this scrap some political legs to boot. Where exactly all this goes, we don't know, but we love to see the heat turned up on Colorado WINS.
Let them eat some of their own transparency cake for awhile.