Two in Three Iowans Want an FOI Ombuds…

Two in three Iowans polled favor the creation of a board in state government to handle citizen complaints about violations of open meetings and access to government documents.

The findings come as Gov. Terry Branstad has joined open government advocates in pushing the Legislature to create such a board, staffed by a full-time attorney, to handle complaints.

The September poll, commissioned by the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, found Iowans want greater accountability and openness in government than is currently practiced, even though few Iowans know the specifics of the state’s open meetings and records laws.

“In every question about the tension between openness and privacy, Iowans endorse more openness,” notes pollster J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., in a summary of results.

The poll — one of the first of its kind in the country — provides a baseline of Iowans’ beliefs that can be used by the Legislature, as well as by the Freedom of Information Council, Kathleen Richardson, the nonprofit organization’s executive secretary, said.

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