I am extremely disappointed in decisions that you have made regarding the special investigation requested by Speaker Charles McCall. Speaker McCall has pledged transparency and accountability during his leadership. Likewise, you stated last week that you had “complete confidence in this committee and that truth, due process, and the integrity of this body will prevail.” Unfortunately, your actions over the past few days do not indicate sincerity in that regard.
Rep. David Perryman
You have informed committee members that they:
- Must sign a pre-prepared Confidentiality Agreement: before they can possess a copy of the rules that you have proposed; before they can attend an organizational meeting where the proposed rules will be discussed; before they will be admitted into the committee meeting room where the committee will meet to adopt the rules; that defines non-confidential information as confidential and effectively places committee members under a “gag order” regarding facts and documents that have already been released to the public and regarding public records that are subject to the open record act; and binds them to Rules of Procedure before those rules are even adopted.
- Are prohibited from disclosing the proposed rules to the public;
- Must comply with proposed rules that prevent them from independently attempting to identify or call potential witnesses to testify;
- Are prohibited from calling witnesses without the permission of the chairman of the committee;
- Are prohibited from asking questions of witnesses unless the chairman of the committee allows the questions to be asked;
- Are prohibited from preparing a separate report if they do not agree with the report of the chairman;
- Are prohibited from publicly stating that they voted against any action of the committee or against the final committee report prepared by the Chairman.
In addition, your gag order prohibits dissenting members of the committee from announcing their conclusions and even from publicizing the fact that they dissent from the version of the facts that you wish to make public. The process that you propose is not compatible with a free and open government.
I will not sign the Confidentiality Agreement until:
- Copies of the Proposed Rules are released to committee members and the public;
- The definition of Confidential Information is amended to include only Confidential Information that is deemed confidential under state or federal law;
- Members are allowed to attend the Committee Organizational Meeting prior to signing the Confidentiality Agreement solely for the purpose of discussing and debating the rules and then being allowed AFTER the rules are adopted to decide whether they wish to participate in the work of the Special Investigative Committee;
- Committee members are given more time to adjust their schedules for committee meetings subsequent to the Committee Organizational meeting and the schedules of all members of the committee are respected;
- The Rules are amended to reflect the charge actually given by Speaker McCall;
- The Rules are amended to allow all members of the Committee to call witnesses without unreasonable restraint;
- The Rules are amended to allow all members of the Committee to ask questions of the witnesses without unreasonable restraint;
- The Rules are amended to allow members to publicly dissent to the Majority Report of the Committee; and
- The Rules are amended to allow dissenting members of the committee to draft a Minority Report.
Chairman Cockroft, the investigation should have a non-political, non-partisan goal. It would be my hope that you would be willing to chair this committee in a fair and non-partisan manner.
The investigation of the actions of the two legislators that you have named is only part of the charge given to this committee. The Speaker did not limit the investigation to one, two, three, four or more legislators. It was the charge of the Speaker to investigate all members who have been the subject of allegations and to investigate the use of public funds, including the process and procedure by which the public tax dollars in question were used.
Frankly, the investigation of the use of public funds may well be the most important part of this committee’s work. The constituent contacts that I have received over the past several days have been much more focused on how and why public funds were used in the manner that they were expended and why a portion of them were paid out of a cleaning or janitorial account. There is very little that should be considered “confidential” in that portion of the investigation.
2. Develop a fair and non-partisan procedure for handling allegations of misconduct against members of the House of Representative that:
- Encourages valid complaints against members of the House of Representatives;
- Protects the identity of persons who file valid complaints; and
- Protects the reputation of members of the House of Representatives who are falsely accused;
4. Report the findings of the members of the Committee to the Legislature and to the Public.
Please reverse your prior mandates and allow the Rules to be debated openly and publicly prior to closing the proceedings to the public and to committee members who choose not to sign the proposed Confidentiality Agreement.
I look forward to seeing you at 10:00 a.m. in Room 252. If you would like to speak with me earlier, you have my cell number.
Thank you for your consideration.