Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act isn’t just for journalists — it’s for you, the people who live in the commonwealth.
It is true that reporters have not shied away from invoking FOIA to gain access to records that public bodies are otherwise reluctant to release — open records requests helped uncover a scandal involving former Gov. Bob McDonnell and a wealthy businessman that ultimately resulted in McDonnell’s conviction on corruption charges.
But as we embark on Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of access to public information and what it means to your community, it marks a good time to remember that FOIA (Virginia code section 2.2-3700) is also for the citizens, and they have the power to hold their governments accountable.
As it states in the FOIA preamble: “The affairs of government are not intended to be conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy since at all times the public is to be the beneficiary of any action taken at any level of government.”