Protecting Public Employees From Accountability

Mark Tapscott writes:

Legislators in the California Assembly have approved on a 68-0 vote a bill that would exempt multiple categories of state and local government employees from having their names disclosed in public property records, according to Steven Greenhut....

Greenhut, who is vice president of the Franklin Center for Government Public Integrity points out that such a measure has implications far beyond public safety concerns: "Public officials and their family members will be able to hide their identities, which will undermine the reliability of property transactions. Dirty officials will pull off real estate scams without scrutiny," he said.

As it turns out, Arizona has a prohibition from publishing the home addresses of government officials over the Internet.  Which Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who else) has used to try to thwart investigations of his real estate dealings

In 2004, during an election cycle, reporter John Dougherty found that Arpaio had over a million dollars of investments in commercial real estate parcels.  Dougherty asked the question, how does a lifetime public official making $78,000 a year have so much real estate?  Arpaio could have replied that his family was independently wealthy or that he had parlayed his real estate investment from rags to riches.  Instead, Arpaio used an obscure law aimed at protecting the home addresses of government officials to remove access to any public records of his commercial real estate transactions at the same time he removed his home address from these data bases.  Instead of explaining where the money came from, he used his power to cover his tracks.

If passed, this means that California officials can take bribes with impunity, as long as they take these bribes in the form of real estate.


  1. Larry:

    Santa Barbara, California investigative reporter Peter Lance's June 2011 newspaper series on Santa Barbara Police Officer Kasi Beutel relied, in part, on public property records as he researched questions related to Beutel's prior bankruptcy. Such reporting and scrutiny could not happen again should a measure like this pass. Also, it shrouds the activities of government employees only, not anyone in the private sector.

  2. elambend:

    Some animals are more equal than others.

  3. Doug:

    "Can take bribes"? This is California, home of Big Brother! We ain't Chicago yet, but we're creeping up on it. It's not "can take bribes." It's how many bribes those thieves in Sacramento have they already taken.