Secretary Bill Galvin Nominated for Golden Padlock Award

This is not the kind of award you want to win.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

For the second year in a row, Massachusetts is in the running for a Golden Padlock Award. Like a Razzie, this is the kind of award you don’t want to win.

Awarded by Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), the Golden Padlock recognizes the most secretive U.S. agency or individual each year. Last year, the Massachusetts State Police took top honors, besting the Colorado Judicial Branch, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin and Supervisor of Public Records Shawn Williams have been named finalists for this year’s award, and will face stiff competition in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Freedom of Information, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the City of El Paso.

Robert Cribb, chair of the IRE’s Golden Padlock committee, said these five finalists represent the “very best of American government secrecy.”

“Transparency and accountability are concepts routinely embraced by politicians and public officials—and just as routinely abandoned when they become inconvenient,” Cribb said. “This year’s dubious crop of distinguished nominees covers the landscape of public interest contempt—from imagining creative legal obstacles for denying release of public interest records, to mind-boggling delays to indefensible fees that reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Galvin and Williams were named finalists for “supporting the withholding of a wide range of public records including race and ethnicity data and a recording of a public official making derogatory comments about two women at a public meeting.”

The announcement notes that Williams once upheld a $6,600 fee for a request filed by the Globe for a State Police log of public records requests, deeming their estimate of 265 hours needed to review the log before release “reasonable.” Also noted is that the Globe has successfully challenged Williams’ decisions in the courts—five times.

Winners will be announced at IRE’s annual conference in New Orleans on June 18. Galvin and Williams will be invited to attend.