Whitesburg KY
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Keep it open

Apparently Reps. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, and C.B. Embry, RMorgantown, think it’s OK to dispense huge amounts of taxpayer money without telling the public who is getting it. They have filed a bill that would let winners of lottery prizes remain anonymous.

There’s an endless list of circumstances in which individuals who get public benefits would rather not be subjected to public scrutiny, but the basic requirement of state government-in-the-sunshine law – that the public’s business be done in public – takes precedence.

Those who want their winnings kept secret should seek them in something other than a public lottery.

Mr. Wayne claims he has no position on the measure and simply wants to prompt debate, but the fact is, he has lent his name to a dangerous erosion of state open records law. Every exception justifies another exception, and soon we’ll have no effective open government statute on the books.

A brief period without publicity, in which the Kentucky Lottery Corp. can provide counseling and help jackpot winners prepare for the various challenges that come with the money, may be in order. But the public should know, and quickly, who has won what.

If nothing else, the credibility of the Kentucky lottery is at stake. Once the KLC begins closing its records, the public will have less and less confidence in its operation.

This clearly is a solution in search of a problem. Lottery winners have been publicly identified for many years, without dire consequences. That’s the way it’s done everywhere except in Delaware.

Mr. Wayne claimed, “I am a real advocate for open records and meetings.”

With friends like that, the real advocates of open government don’t need any enemies.

– The Courier-Journal, Louisville

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