North Dakota’s transparency laws are just a bit too open for Senator Dorgan, and now the university which will serve as the repository for his Senate documents wants the laws changed.
fter former Sen. Byron Dorgan agreed last year to donate his congressional papers to the University of North Dakota, Libraries Director Wilbur Stolt said he discovered a long-standing practice for such donations wasn’t in line with state law.
Dorgan, like others in the past, wanted his personal donation restricted from public viewing for a certain number of years – a common request among donors, Stolt said.
But since UND’s Chester Fritz Library is tied to the public institution, agreeing to such requests actually violates North Dakota’s open records law, which ensures public access to government documents.
Stolt requested that state legislators look at changing the law to include an exemption for donations to public library facilities.
House Bill 1396 would allow public libraries, archives or museums to keep donations private at the request of the donor for up to 20 years after the donor’s death.
There seems to be a trend away from transparency afoot in the state. Legislators in the state House defeated a bill to enhance transparency on state spending, and the Republican majority is opposing legislation that would require legislators to divulge the details of trips they take paid for by other interests.
Now Dorgan wants an extra special exemption for his papers from his time serving as one of North Dakota’s Senators.
I have to ask, who exactly was it that Dorgan was serving in Washington DC? Was it not the people? So why then shouldn’t the people, in accordance with the laws established in this state, be allowed to see Dorgan’s papers in a timely manner?
I don’t think Byron Dorgan should get to be exempt from the state’s transparency laws. He may have moved away from North Dakota long ago, maintaining only a superficial residence here for legal purposes, but he should still abide by our laws as written.