In Alabama, Shelby Co. lawyer John Aaron, a Democrat, is seeking records about possible misuse of BP spill compensation money from State Sen. Ben Brooks, a Republican. The Mobile Press-Register editorializes in favor of disclosing public documents in the matter.
"State Sen. Ben Brooks is off base in his refusal to release oil-spill records to a man he calls a 'political hack.' If the information meets the Code of Alabama's definition of a public record, then the senator should turn it over.
If he needs a judge to tell him whether or not the information is public, fine — and indeed, Sen. Brooks has asked the Mobile County Circuit Court to do exactly that.
But for him to resist the records request because he believes it is 'politically motivated' is inappropriate. ...
Presumably, a judge will rule soon on the senator's petition. Meanwhile, here's the bottom line: Although the millions of dollars worth of recovery money is coming from a private source (BP), it is being funneled through public coffers and distributed by public officials.
A thorough public airing of how it's being spent will help ensure that none of the money is misused."
The editorial, by the Mobile Press-Register Editorial Board, was published September 15, 2010.
"State Sen. Ben Brooks Questions Bayou La Batre's Use of Bp Funds for Grant Writer" (Mobile Press-Register)
"State Senator Asks Judge Whether He Must Release Bp Recovery Money Records" (Press-Register)