This type of secrecy, which involves State government granting special favors to private companies, is a clear betrayal of trust for any public official. It must be stopped.
Last week, the state filed dozens of records related to TNInvestco under seal, saying in its filings the documents constituted either “tax information” or “tax administration information” and therefore were exempt from the law.
It was an argument echoed by Deputy Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter before Davidson County Chancellor Russell T. Perkins today. Kleinfelter said the state tax statutes and those governing sensitive economic development information trumped Tennessee’s Open Records Act.
“This is not really an appropriate forum for Mr. Coleman to challenge the commissioners for the decisions that were made,” Kleinfelter said, adding later “It is not a privilege. I is a law passed by the Tennessee General Assembly saying the commissioner of economic and community development has the ability to make such documents confidential.”
“We submit is is clearly a tax statute (issue) but at the very least it is related to tax statutes,” Kleinfelter added.
At one point, Kleinfelter appeared to suggest when asked by Perkins that his court did not have the authority to rule in the matter as state law allows for no judicial review once Kisber seals a document with the attorney general’s blessing.