Open Government Flap Leads To More Calls For Ombudsman

Nashville (AP) -- The head of the state lawyers association says members of the Tennessee State Ethics Commission are circumventing the "sunshine law" by discussing state business by e-mail.

Allen Ramsaur, Executive Director of the Tennessee Bar Association, argued at a commission meeting Tuesday the e-mail exchanges underline the need for an independent ombudsman on open meetings and record.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Bruce Androphy responded that the correspondence falls under attorney-client privilege exceptions to open records laws. Androphy said he has asked the state Attorney General's Office to confirm that the documents can remain closed to the public.

Executive Director Frank Gibson of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government says the creation of an independent authority on open government matters could help resolve the kinds of disputes that arose Tuesday.

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