As I told a local journalist recently, I pity the state employee who is currently in charge of Right-to-Know requests over at the Statehouse. Between the Financial Resources Mortgage scandal, the Liquor Commission standoff, and other assorted goings-on, it is suddenly open season on all manner of official government paper trail, including case files, internal memos, and email correspondence. With the two state parties, multiple campaigns, and outside advocacy groups all clamoring for direct access to this information, I am sure state photocopy machines will be working at capacity for the foreseeable future.
Opposition research by political campaigns and outside groups is nothing new in politics. The hunt for a political smoking gun was around long before the current flurry of calls for greater transparency, and will no doubt continue long after the present governance episodes are eventually put to rest. But the hunt for a smoking gun that may damage an opponent’s political future is not necessarily the same enterprise as trying to understand exactly what precipitated a particular governmental failure. So, it was with great anticipation that everyone awaited the initial email dump for former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. At least we now know that state employees enjoy a good pizza party as much as the next person.
Like a lot of other local political observers, I hope all of the present issues are eventually fully understood. The truth has a tendency to come out in the end, and let the chips fall where they may for the various Democratic and Republican politicians who are potentially culpable and thus politically at risk. But in the meantime, I hope that all of the interested parties will proceed with due diligence before embarking on fishing expeditions, lest they end up fishing in the same boat with Hawaii.
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