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L.A. Times, other papers sue California Legislature

Lawsuit seeks the release of the office budgets and spending records of lawmakers and legislative committees.

August 06, 2011|By Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Sacramento -- A group of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, has filed a lawsuit against the California Legislature, alleging that the institution violated state open-records laws by refusing to release the office budgets and spending records of lawmakers and legislative committees.

Last month, the Assembly Rules Committee rejected multiple requests for legislators' budgets, including one from a lawmaker, on the grounds that the information was exempt from public disclosure under the Legislative Open Records Act. Government administrators cited provisions excluding "legislative memoranda" and "correspondence" from disclosure.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Sacramento County Superior Court, said the fiscal records "concern the conduct of the people's business and the use of public resources to conduct that business, and do not fall under any of the exemptions" in the open-records law.

The suit stems from allegations by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) cut his office budget as punishment for his vote against the state budget in June.

The media outlets initially sought the records to investigate the allegations and glean insight into how party leadership allocates taxpayer resources to rank-and-file lawmakers.

michael.mishak@latimes.com

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