Extract from Daniel Diana’s article “The “State” of Public Records Law: A 50 State Survey”
Open records laws like the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and its state equivalents are essential tools for government transparency. Public advocacy groups, journalists, and private businesses all depend on such “sunshine laws” to peer into the inner workings of governments.
Groups like the Sierra Club have used FOIA to expose corruption at the highest levels of government. Journalists like 3-time Pulitzer Prize winner Eric Lipton, of the New York Times, rely on sunshine laws to break the latest headlines. Businesses and law firms, who make up the majority of open records requesters, use such laws to bring light into government action and decision-making—and often as a supplement to the traditional discovery process.