At least 29 states post financial disclosure reports for lawmakers and other public officials on the Web, making it easy to see their investments and potential sources of conflicts with a few clicks. Most other states make the filings readily available for free to those who show up in person.But not Massachusetts, which has set up a virtual gantlet to see the filings, even though the whole point of collecting the financial information is to inform the public.
In this state, residents must first show a photo ID and fill out a written request. And they are warned that a copy of the request will then be forwarded to the public officials to let them know who peeked at their filings. But both Common Cause Massachusetts and a Boston lawyer said the Ethics Commission should not charge citizens just to look at the reports.
“I found nothing in the ethics law or regulations that allows the commission to recoup fees for redaction,” said Robert A. Bertsche, a media lawyer with Boston law firm Prince Lobel Tye LLP.
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