Klick’s ties to group should be disclosed

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, may still be in her freshman year as a legislator, but she’s not so new to the job that she gets a pass on keeping information from her constituents.

Klick was elected last year in the North Richland Hills-centered Texas House District 91, taking a seat formerly held by Kelly Hancock, who moved up to the Senate.

But Klick is no political neophyte. She served six years as Tarrant County Republican chairwoman.

So she knew what she was doing this summer when she declined to release documents from her dealings with the American Legislative Exchange Council, commonly known as ALEC.

She asked Attorney General Greg Abbott for a ruling allowing her to retain records requested by the Center for Media and Democracy, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit that has a history of clashes with ALEC.

ALEC describes itself as “a nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers” who share a “belief in limited government, free markets, federalism and individual liberty.”

Founded in 1973, the organization “has been the ideal means of creating and delivering public policy ideas aimed at protecting and expanding our free society,” it says.

Its member legislators from various states “have worked together to create, develop, introduce and guide to enactment many of the cutting-edge, conservative policies that have now become the law in the states,” ALEC says on its website.

Klick’s political history shows she clearly agrees with those principles, and she and ALEC have every right to work together on what they see as proper legislation.

But she shouldn’t keep her correspondence a secret. As the preamble to the Texas Public Information Act says, the people delegate authority to make laws, but they “do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.”

There are exceptions to the disclosures required by the act, each of which must be narrowly tailored to serve a specific public purpose.

The only purpose served by keeping Klick’s ALEC correspondence secret is to hide from her constituents her work done in collaboration with the organization and its corporate sponsors.

That’s exactly the type of thing her constituents should know.

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