State superintendent signs Open Government Pledge, seeks re-election

The state superintendent for public instruction has pledged that her office will comply with the letter and spirit of Oklahoma’s Open Records Act.

In signing FOI Oklahoma’s Open Government Pledge for statewide candidates, Joy Hofmeister also promised “to support at every opportunity” the state’s public policy that “the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government so that they can efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power.”

The Tulsa Republican faces Democrat John Cox and independent Larry Huff in the Nov. 6 general election. 

The state superintendent is the chief executive officer for the State Department of Education and president of the State Education Board.

Hofmeister was elected in 2014. Her chief of staff at the State Department of Education, Phil Bacharach, is a member of FOI Oklahoma’s board of directors.

In mid-2016, the department agreed to end its prohibition on requesters using a pen or pencil to take notes while reviewing records. The policy contradicted a 2006 Attorney General opinion that requesters have the right to use their “own copying equipment ... as long as [that] copying process does not unreasonably disrupt the essential functions of the public body or result in defacing or loss of such records.” (See 2006 OK AG 35)

The prohibition wasn’t being enforced and not removing it from the department’s open records policy was an oversight, an agency attorney explained at the time.

The revised policy doesn’t include the prohibition.

FOI Oklahoma invites all candidates for state, local and legislative seats to sign the pledge on FOI Oklahoma’s website, where a list of signers also can be found.

Since FOI Oklahoma began the pledge in 2008, 186 candidates have signed — with 95, or 51 percent —being elected at least once. FOI Oklahoma began the Open Government Pledge as part of a national 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 Media & Strategic Communications

Mass Communication Law in Oklahoma

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, its board of directors or the commentator’s employer. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.