Iowa officials stymie public information requests during pandemic

COVID-19 has Iowans wanting more information from federal, state and local governments to guide life-or-death decisions raised by the unprecedented pandemic. Is it safe to go to the store? Do masks prevent spread of the virus? Should my kids go to school in the fall? At a time when Iowans need accurate and complete information, some state agencies, including the Governor’s Office, are ignoring questions from reporters, refusing to do interviews and stalling on public records requests – sometimes for months, Iowa journalists said.

Join Us At Our 2017 Banquet

The fifth annual Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government Banquet, titled “Government Transparency: Now More Than Ever,” will feature White House correspondent Jennifer Jacobs as its guest speaker on Thursday, Oct. 5, in Des Moines. The banquet, at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown and hosted by the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism — IowaWatch with the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and Iowa Newspaper Foundation, will follow a day of raising awareness about the importance of an open government and an unrestricted press to our democracy. The banquet will begin with a 5:30 p.m. reception, with serving beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Other events will include a public forum hosted by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Freedom of Information Council, titled, “Iowa’s Creeping Secrecy.” The forum will examine how each year brings more challenges that would erode Iowa’s long tradition of state and local government being open for scrutiny by the public. Speakers will explore this expanding secrecy – and arguments marshaled by various sides.