Democratic candidate for attorney general signs Open Government Pledge

The only announced Democratic candidate for attorney general has pledged “to support at every opportunity" the inherent right of Oklahomans "to know and be fully informed about their government."

Jim Priest also promised that the attorney general's office would "comply with not only the letter but also the spirit of Oklahoma's Open Meeting and Open Records laws” if he is elected.

Ryan Leonard, an announced Republican candidate for the attorney general's office, signed FOI Oklahoma Inc.'s Open Government Pledge in January.

Priest has practiced law for 30 years and is an ordained deacon in the Church of the Nazarene.

On Saturday, Priest said he would continue current Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s open meeting and records seminars across the state. (Edmondson, a Democrat, is running for governor, not re-election as attorney general.)

Priest also said he would work to strengthen Oklahoma's laws to limit Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. So-called SLAPPs are "retaliatory lawsuits intended to silence, intimidate, or punish those who have used public forums to speak, petition, or otherwise move for government action on an issue." (
West's Encyclopedia of American Law)

Oklahoma students also should receive more education on open government, Priest told FOI Oklahoma Inc.'s third-annual Sunshine Week conference.

Freedom of Information Oklahoma Inc. invites other candidates for statewide offices and those running for legislative seats to sign the pledge.

Instructions and a list of signers for the 2010 elections can be found on FOI Oklahoma’s Web site.

FOI Oklahoma began the Open Government Pledge in spring 2008 as part of the national Sunshine Week effort to spur public commitments to government transparency from candidates for president down to city council contests.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.