Open Records
and
Research Tools
Jen Raiffie
jraiffie@gmail.com
720.987.7620
Goals
• Strategy for Target
• Open Records –
• Over View of Law
• Process for getting Access]
• Recurring Issues
• Costs t...
Target
• Know job description better
• Complacency
• Know vulnerabilities
• Know statues
• Learn policies, process, SOP
• ...
Statutory
GuidelinesCO Election Law
Campaign Finance
CORA/FOIA
CO Sunshine Law
If you don’t know, ask
Knowledge is power –...
Vulnerabilities
Voter Roll
Emergency Voter Registration
Same Day Voter Registration
24 Hour Drop Box
Poll Watcher Access
C...
RECORD
EVERYTHING
If it is not documented in writing
or on video, it did not happen
Observe & Test
Test Policy/Process
Document
Assess
Report Findings
Video - Brandon
Registering To Vote in Denver
Video -James
AG Holder
Senator Udall
Just show up and record
VIDEO TRACKING RISKS
Legal
Physical Harm
Who is filming you while you film
Blowing your cover
Once recognized, element of
...
Methods of Access
Ask
Web
Observe
Dumpster Diving
CORA/FOIA
Open Records
FOIA
CORA (Sunshine Law)
Meetings / Executive Session
What is accessible to the
public
Criminal Records Act
P...
• CO Press Association PDF
http://tinyurl.com/osbalc6
• CO Municipal League –Open Mtgs
http://tinyurl.com/oobqdxe
• Primer...
CORA
Colorado Open Records Act -
24-72-201 et seq.
Colo. Rev. Stat.
LEGISLATIVE DECLARAION
The CORA’s opening section establishes
public policy of broad, open access to
government records
“L...
PROCESS
Is it Public
Is it
accessible
AskInspect
Verify
Source
Countervailing Policy
“Public disclosure of certain
communications would deter the
open exchange of opinions and
recommend...
WHAT IS PUBLIC?
“The general policy of the Act is
that all public records are open
to inspection unless specifically
excep...
CO PUBLIC RECORDS LAW
(24-72-201+)
LEGISLATIVE POLICY:
declares that all public records
shall be open for inspection by
an...
CORA STATUTORY ELEMENTS
1. Definition of “public record”
2. Procedure to access
3. Exemptions
ELEMENTS OF PUBLIC
RECORD
1. Any paper, data, or other documentary
material regardless of hard-copy or electronic
format
2...
ACCESS
What information is accessible?
DEFINITION OF “PUBLIC
RECORD”
“Writings” means and includes all
books, papers, maps, photographs,
cards, tapes, recordings...
DEFINITION OF “PUBLIC
RECORD”
“Writings” Exclusions
• Criminal Justice Records
• Work Product for elected officials
• Crim...
DEFINITION OF “PUBLIC
RECORD”
Work Product” Inclusions
Deliberative materials assembled to assist elected
officials in rea...
DEFINITION OF “PUBLIC
RECORD”“Work Product” exclusions
Final versions of documents expressing an official
decision; fiscal...
EXCEPTIONS
The custodian of public records must
allow any person to inspect any
record unless:
1.State statutes have close...
EXEMPTIONS
Permissive Exemptions
• Police Investigations, intelligence, security procedures
• Non-Criminal Justice Agency ...
EXEMPTIONS
Mandatory Exemptions
• Medical, psychological, sociological and scholastic achievement
data. A coroner's report...
EXEMPTIONS
Mandatory Exemptions
• Library and museum material contributed by private
persons
• Add and phone of public sch...
DEFINITION OF PUBLIC RECORD
Correspondence
Email is correspondence
EXEMPTIONS
1.Work product
2.Correspondence not connecte...
COLUMBINE
EXCEPTIONCORA permits denial of access
under a catch-all provision
protecting against “substantial
injury to the...
THE ASK
There is never any harm in asking
Custodial may not know the law
Even if its not a public record, ask
DENIED
• Custodian is required by law to
provide you the statutory exemption
and reason for the denial.
• They must provid...
Sunshine Law
(Open Meetings)
24-6-401et esq
Colo. Rev. Stat.
Meetings
Any kind of gathering convened to discuss public business,
in person, by telephone, electronically, or other mean...
Public Notice
Public Notice is to be given prior to all meetings where
adoptions of proposed policy, position, resolution,...
Meeting Minutes
Minutes are to be taken and “properly recorded”
Minutes of Exec session must only include topic
of discuss...
COSTCopies may be made of any public record at a cost of not
more than 25 cents per page; however, an additional
"reasonab...
WOW
THAT’S A LOT TO REMEMBER
SPLC Letter
Generator
What to CORA
Emails, Text Messages
Calendars, Visitor Logs
P-Cards, Expenses and Itemized Receipts
Travel Expenses
Know ex...
CORA Submitted
Now What?
Response Time
Reasonable Fees
Statutory Reason for Denial
RECURRING ISSUES
• They want to know why you want info
• They require you to use their form or procedure
• Cost – charge f...
Michie
CO CASE LAWCFI Steel v. Office of Air Pollution Control 2003
Cole v. State of Colorado 1983
Dawson v. State Compensation I...
Tools & Resources
PDF on AdCo GOP Website
http://adcovictory.com/files/Resea
rch%20Tools.pdf
WikiFOIA
TOPS
Transparency Online Project
http://tops.state.co.us/
Adams County
http://www.co.adams.co.us/
Meetings, agendas, recordings
Transparency portal
Search tool
Contact info
Elected...
Google Search
Quotes
Basic Boolean
Search Operands
Budget
Know your sources:
Planning Tool (budget)
Not the hard numbers (CAFR)
Statutory requirements (k-12)
CAFR
Know your sources
Hard Numbers
Legally binding
CBI
For $8, you can get a comprehensive list of
charges
• CO State Specific
• Name, DOB, SSN, Address
Use to validate sele...
TRACER
FEC
http://www.fec.gov
Federal Races
Candidate disclosures
Campaign Finance
Donors & Expenses
CAMPAIGN FINANCE
COMPLAINT
Get legal council
Administrative law and process moves fast
Civil Rules of Procedure
Discovery
...
Legislation
Salazar – bill to cap CORA
charges passed
Is legislation being implemented
E-verify
K-12
Staff and Salaries
Union Contracts
Pizza, Catering, and Coffee
Flowers for Superintendant
ROI
• They are spending your money
• How does it benefit taxpayers
• What is the ROI?
• Chaz trip to DC
WATCHDOG.ORG
LOCAL CITIZEN
AUDITORSwww.Tonysrants.com
www.SpotlightOnCorruption.com
www.Watchdog.org/Colorodo
www.Watchdogwire.com/Colo...
True The Vote
Poll Watchers
Voter Rolls
Challenges
MAIL-IN BALLOT
HARVESTING
Ballot Harvesting
Orphan Ballots
Sample Voter
Fraud
Veritas on Udall
Texas Watchdog
TOSA
Teacher On Special Assignment
– Adams 12 Five Star
Resources
Open Records Law C.R.S. 24-72-201 et
seq.
Open Meetings Law C.R.S. 24-6-401 et
seq.
CO CONSTITUTION
SPLC Letter ...
MORE LINKSThe Colorado Channel
CO Legislative Council Calendar
Colorado Legislative Social Calendar
Colorado Tax Increase
...
THANK YOU
JEN RAIFFIE
Citizen Watchdog Training
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Citizen Watchdog Training

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Tips, Tricks, and Tools to become a Citizen Watchdog in Colorado

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  • Why does it matter?
    This is your government and these are your records.
    How do I know that? James Madison told me
    Lincoln wrote it in the Gettysburg Address “Of the people, By the people, and For the people.”
  • BROAD DECLARATION
    OPEN TO INSPECTION
    OTHER THAN EXCEPTIONS


  • Is it public record
    How can it be accessed (Is it open or closed)
  • Requires an affidavit

  • Criminal Justice Records Act include Police and court records, photographs, tapes, recording, digitally stored data including electronic mail and other documentary materials in addition to books, papers and maps but does not include computer software.
  • Def of work product
  • Permissive – custodial may refuse to disclose record on the basis that custodial opinions disclosure would be contrary to public interest
    The custodian has the discretion to close the following records on the ground that disclosure to the applicant would be contrary to public interest:
  • The custodian must deny inspections of the following records:

  • For 3, BOLO for abuse – not yet seen, but when they figure it out
  • Police report that did not redact the name of a minor
  • The business of the public will not be conducted in secret
    Two-Tiered Law – Law treates state and local govt differently in some areas
    Defines who is Covered, State Public Bodies and Local Public Bodies
    Reporter’s Shield Law 13-90-119; 24-72.5-101+ - reporters do not have to disclose source unless you personally witnessed the commission of a crime

    TRADEMARK AND COPYRIGHT. Governmental entities can now get trademark and copyright protection for public records; however, this cannot restrict public access or fair use of copy- righted materials and does not apply to writings which are "merely lists or other compilations.”

    Criminal Justice Records – covered on page 10 of the CPA pdf
    Open Courts and Court Procedures – covered on page 13 of CPA pdf

    Page 15 defines how to submit an open records request
    Beware – some may require their own form which is in direct violation of the statue.
  • Ask for Waiver
    Custodian has disgression to grant fee waiver or not
    They can turn over non-pubic records if they want

    Ask other jurisdictions for the same info that yours is withholding
    If all provide access, go back to yours and tell them.
  • AdCo charges $40/year and then $10 for each additional data request. – reasonable.
  • Todd Shepherd
    Amy Oliver
    Reagan Benson
    Watchdog Wire
    Jessica Peck

  • http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/Colorado/
  • SOURCE: Ballotpedia http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Colorado_Open_Records_Act
  • http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Colorado_on_WikiFOIA
  • Compare – how far on / off from budget
    Finances, Staffing, Facilites, Capitl Projects
  • CBI https://www.cbirecordscheck.com/index.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
  • http://tracer.sos.colorado.gov/
  • The Colorado Channel
    CO Legislative Council Calendar
    Colorado Legislative Social Calendar
    Colorado Tax Increase
    Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT)
    Fiscal Grade By State
    Govt Track – Colorado
    Independence Institute
    Principles Of Liberty
    State Data Lab
    Stop Stormwater Utility
  • Citizen Watchdog Training

    1. 1. Open Records and Research Tools Jen Raiffie jraiffie@gmail.com 720.987.7620
    2. 2. Goals • Strategy for Target • Open Records – • Over View of Law • Process for getting Access] • Recurring Issues • Costs to obtain access • Research Tools
    3. 3. Target • Know job description better • Complacency • Know vulnerabilities • Know statues • Learn policies, process, SOP • Test policies, process, SOP
    4. 4. Statutory GuidelinesCO Election Law Campaign Finance CORA/FOIA CO Sunshine Law If you don’t know, ask Knowledge is power – Learn It
    5. 5. Vulnerabilities Voter Roll Emergency Voter Registration Same Day Voter Registration 24 Hour Drop Box Poll Watcher Access Canvass Process “Lost” Challenges
    6. 6. RECORD EVERYTHING If it is not documented in writing or on video, it did not happen
    7. 7. Observe & Test Test Policy/Process Document Assess Report Findings
    8. 8. Video - Brandon Registering To Vote in Denver
    9. 9. Video -James AG Holder Senator Udall
    10. 10. Just show up and record
    11. 11. VIDEO TRACKING RISKS Legal Physical Harm Who is filming you while you film Blowing your cover Once recognized, element of surprise and incognito is gone Recording laws vary by state
    12. 12. Methods of Access Ask Web Observe Dumpster Diving CORA/FOIA
    13. 13. Open Records FOIA CORA (Sunshine Law) Meetings / Executive Session What is accessible to the public Criminal Records Act PD, Sheriff, DOC, Sheriff
    14. 14. • CO Press Association PDF http://tinyurl.com/osbalc6 • CO Municipal League –Open Mtgs http://tinyurl.com/oobqdxe • Primer – Exec Session Checklist http://tinyurl.com/k3qf5ml
    15. 15. CORA Colorado Open Records Act - 24-72-201 et seq. Colo. Rev. Stat.
    16. 16. LEGISLATIVE DECLARAION The CORA’s opening section establishes public policy of broad, open access to government records “Legislative declaratives. It is declared to be the public policy of the state that all records shall be open for public inspection as provided in this part or otherwise specifically provided by law” 24-72-201, C.R.S.
    17. 17. PROCESS Is it Public Is it accessible AskInspect Verify Source
    18. 18. Countervailing Policy “Public disclosure of certain communications would deter the open exchange of opinions and recommendations between government officials”
    19. 19. WHAT IS PUBLIC? “The general policy of the Act is that all public records are open to inspection unless specifically excepted by law.”
    20. 20. CO PUBLIC RECORDS LAW (24-72-201+) LEGISLATIVE POLICY: declares that all public records shall be open for inspection by any person at reasonable times
    21. 21. CORA STATUTORY ELEMENTS 1. Definition of “public record” 2. Procedure to access 3. Exemptions
    22. 22. ELEMENTS OF PUBLIC RECORD 1. Any paper, data, or other documentary material regardless of hard-copy or electronic format 2. made, maintained, or kept by 3. an entity that falls within the scope of the “state” or a state “agency,” state “institution,” a “political subdivision” of the state 4. for use in the exercise of governmental functions.
    23. 23. ACCESS What information is accessible?
    24. 24. DEFINITION OF “PUBLIC RECORD” “Writings” means and includes all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, or other documentary material regardless of physical form or characteristics. “Writings” includes digitally stored data, includes without limitation electronic mail messages, but does not include computer software.”
    25. 25. DEFINITION OF “PUBLIC RECORD” “Writings” Exclusions • Criminal Justice Records • Work Product for elected officials • Crime victim correspondence records • Notification of possible arson loss • Correspondence with explicit expectation of privacy • Computer Software
    26. 26. DEFINITION OF “PUBLIC RECORD” Work Product” Inclusions Deliberative materials assembled to assist elected officials in reaching a decision, such as background information or drafts of documents expressing a decision. Drafts of bills or amendments. Research by Legislative Council for a legislator and identified as proposed legislation. A legislator can request that the final product remain work product; otherwise, it becomes public record.
    27. 27. DEFINITION OF “PUBLIC RECORD”“Work Product” exclusions Final versions of documents expressing an official decision; fiscal or performance audit reports on public entity management or the expenditure of public funds; or final financial reports. Materials distributed in a public meeting or identified in the text of a document that expresses a decision. Documents which consist solely of factual information compiled from public sources, including comparison of existing laws, etc. in other jurisdictions or compilations of existing public information, statistics or data explanations of general areas of law or policy.
    28. 28. EXCEPTIONS The custodian of public records must allow any person to inspect any record unless: 1.State statutes have closed it; 2. Federal law forbids it; 3.The Supreme Court or a state court has closed the record.
    29. 29. EXEMPTIONS Permissive Exemptions • Police Investigations, intelligence, security procedures • Non-Criminal Justice Agency – Child protective services • Test questions or scoring keys • Specific details of research projects by state agencies • Specific details of research on proposed legislation by legislative staff or Governor • Real estate appraisals until property is transferred • Info generated by bid analysis or mgmt system of DOT • Individual identifying records from Dept of Revenue (DMV)
    30. 30. EXEMPTIONS Mandatory Exemptions • Medical, psychological, sociological and scholastic achievement data. A coroner's report is open. Scholastic information is available on finalists for executive positions. Marriage license applications are closed, but marriage licenses are public records. • Personnel files. Personnel files include only: home addresses, phone numbers, financial information, and other similar private information maintained because of employer- employee relationship and document • Letters of reference • Trade Secrets • Library and museum material contributed by private persons • Add and phone of public school children except to recruiting officers • Library records – disclosing id of user
    31. 31. EXEMPTIONS Mandatory Exemptions • Library and museum material contributed by private persons • Add and phone of public school children except to recruiting • Add, phone, personal finances of public utility users, public facility users, recreation or cultural service users • Sexual harassment complaints unless released by complainant or person charged (private & separate from that covered in criminal justice records act) • Motor Vehicle Records (other than traffic accident reports) except for certain specified uses which do not include the press (Employment Verification for Drivers, Law
    32. 32. DEFINITION OF PUBLIC RECORD Correspondence Email is correspondence EXEMPTIONS 1.Work product 2.Correspondence not connected to official duties, public business, or public funds 3.Message to official from constituent expressing expectation of confidentiality
    33. 33. COLUMBINE EXCEPTIONCORA permits denial of access under a catch-all provision protecting against “substantial injury to the public interest” 24-72-204(6)(a) C.R.S.
    34. 34. THE ASK There is never any harm in asking Custodial may not know the law Even if its not a public record, ask
    35. 35. DENIED • Custodian is required by law to provide you the statutory exemption and reason for the denial. • They must provide the statute • Research Case Law on Google
    36. 36. Sunshine Law (Open Meetings) 24-6-401et esq Colo. Rev. Stat.
    37. 37. Meetings Any kind of gathering convened to discuss public business, in person, by telephone, electronically, or other means of communication All meetings of TWO OR MORE members which public business is to be discussed or formal action is to be taken are open Social Gatherings and chance meetings are exempt if discussion of public business is not the central purpose Emails between elected officials on matters other than public business is not a “meeting” What about lunch between 2 legislators?
    38. 38. Public Notice Public Notice is to be given prior to all meetings where adoptions of proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, regulation, or formal action occurrs Local Public bodies must give a minimal of 24 hour advance notice and specify agenda “if at all possible” County Notice Exemption – Commissioners do not have to give 24-hr notice if two or more meet to discuss “day-to-day” oversight of property or supervision of employees. “Hiring, Firing, Buidling a new courthouse, or buying major equipment is not considered “oversight”
    39. 39. Meeting Minutes Minutes are to be taken and “properly recorded” Minutes of Exec session must only include topic of discussion School Boards are required to make an electronic recording of any meeting at which decisions can be made Retention requirments = 90 days
    40. 40. COSTCopies may be made of any public record at a cost of not more than 25 cents per page; however, an additional "reasonable fee" may be charged for: 1.Requester may have to pay costs to manipulate the data. Subsequent requesters to pay same as first. 2.Use of a computer program other than word processing if necessary to provide a record. Fee for a copy can recover costs of the system; however, this may be waived for public purposes, including journalists, nonprofits and academic research. 3.3. Records "not readily available" must be provided within three working days, unless custodian in writing declares there are "extenuating circumstances," such as number of documents required. This extends access time to seven days.
    41. 41. WOW THAT’S A LOT TO REMEMBER
    42. 42. SPLC Letter Generator
    43. 43. What to CORA Emails, Text Messages Calendars, Visitor Logs P-Cards, Expenses and Itemized Receipts Travel Expenses Know expense policy and limitations, ROI / Benefit Contracts Know bidding process CCW lists, Voter Files CORAs
    44. 44. CORA Submitted Now What? Response Time Reasonable Fees Statutory Reason for Denial
    45. 45. RECURRING ISSUES • They want to know why you want info • They require you to use their form or procedure • Cost – charge for county business (time to review/redact) • Timeline requirements, Unresponsive • Purging, illegal destruction of public records • Using personal accounts, cell phones for business • Handling Violations of CORA • Shame them • Seek Legal Advise / Get a lawyer • Media Release • Write about it • Ask credentialed media to place request
    46. 46. Michie
    47. 47. CO CASE LAWCFI Steel v. Office of Air Pollution Control 2003 Cole v. State of Colorado 1983 Dawson v. State Compensation Insurance Authority 1990 Denver Post v. Ritter 2008 Denver Post v. Stapleton Development 2000 Denver Post v. University of Colorado1987 Downing v. Brown 1877 Freedom Newspapers v. Colorado Springs 1987 Glenwood Post v. City of Glenwood Springs 1986 Hudspeth v. Board of County Commissioners 1983 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District 1994 Times-Call Publishing Co. Inc. v. Wingfield 1966 Wick v. Montrose County Board of County Commissioners 2003 Zubeck v. El Paso County Retirement Plan 1998
    48. 48. Tools & Resources PDF on AdCo GOP Website http://adcovictory.com/files/Resea rch%20Tools.pdf
    49. 49. WikiFOIA
    50. 50. TOPS Transparency Online Project http://tops.state.co.us/
    51. 51. Adams County http://www.co.adams.co.us/ Meetings, agendas, recordings Transparency portal Search tool Contact info Elected officials County Clerk & Recorder Election Center
    52. 52. Google Search Quotes Basic Boolean Search Operands
    53. 53. Budget Know your sources: Planning Tool (budget) Not the hard numbers (CAFR) Statutory requirements (k-12)
    54. 54. CAFR Know your sources Hard Numbers Legally binding
    55. 55. CBI For $8, you can get a comprehensive list of charges • CO State Specific • Name, DOB, SSN, Address Use to validate selective disclosure of records County vs Municipal LE agencies
    56. 56. TRACER
    57. 57. FEC http://www.fec.gov Federal Races Candidate disclosures Campaign Finance Donors & Expenses
    58. 58. CAMPAIGN FINANCE COMPLAINT Get legal council Administrative law and process moves fast Civil Rules of Procedure Discovery Prep presentation to judge before you file Intro Witnesses Evidence Closing
    59. 59. Legislation Salazar – bill to cap CORA charges passed Is legislation being implemented E-verify
    60. 60. K-12 Staff and Salaries Union Contracts Pizza, Catering, and Coffee Flowers for Superintendant
    61. 61. ROI • They are spending your money • How does it benefit taxpayers • What is the ROI? • Chaz trip to DC
    62. 62. WATCHDOG.ORG
    63. 63. LOCAL CITIZEN AUDITORSwww.Tonysrants.com www.SpotlightOnCorruption.com www.Watchdog.org/Colorodo www.Watchdogwire.com/Colorado www.Mediatrackers.com www.CompleteColorado.com www.ColoradoPeakPolitics.com www.RevealingPolitics.com www.CompassColorado.com
    64. 64. True The Vote Poll Watchers Voter Rolls Challenges
    65. 65. MAIL-IN BALLOT HARVESTING Ballot Harvesting Orphan Ballots
    66. 66. Sample Voter Fraud Veritas on Udall Texas Watchdog
    67. 67. TOSA Teacher On Special Assignment – Adams 12 Five Star
    68. 68. Resources Open Records Law C.R.S. 24-72-201 et seq. Open Meetings Law C.R.S. 24-6-401 et seq. CO CONSTITUTION SPLC Letter Generator
    69. 69. MORE LINKSThe Colorado Channel CO Legislative Council Calendar Colorado Legislative Social Calendar Colorado Tax Increase Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT) Fiscal Grade By State Govt Track – Colorado Independence Institute Principles Of Liberty State Data Lab Stop Stormwater Utility
    70. 70. THANK YOU JEN RAIFFIE

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