Ask the candidates: Gubernatorial responses on transparency and accountability

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Alabama Today sent the candidates a copy of a sitting governor’s daily schedule as sent the evening before to press and interested parties. We noted in the email that Governor Robert Bentley and Governor Kay Ivey had chosen not to do so.  It turns out that Governor Ivey has sent her schedule out to some media for several months. Neither her official office nor campaign was able to provide a response as to why Alabama Today was originally included on the list of recipients only to be removed within days leading to the conclusion they weren’t providing them anymore.

Good news: It looks as though in a crowded field of candidates transparency is key to many. Here is the question as posed and their responses.

The following question: If elected, in the name of transparency and accountability, would you be willing to implement a policy to do so (provide a public schedule to press)? If not why?

*In the order in which they were received with the exception of Ivey whose official office and campaign responded at separate times but are being published together.

Governor Kay Ivey via Brent Buchanan (campaign):

Buchanan, “Governor Kay Ivey promised transparency and to clean up the mess in Montgomery. She has done and will continue to do both.

Governor Ivey has been releasing her schedule to the media – any of whom can publish more widely than a government website – for many months.”

Governor Kay Ivey via Daniel Sparkman (official office):

Sparkman re: Alabama Today request to receive the governor’s schedule*,  “it is solely to be used for planning purposes and not for publication. It is also not to be shared outside of your organization.”

* Ivey’s official schedule is released at the beginning of each week. We are unsure if it is amended or updated based on changes as is Governor Rick Scott‘s of Florida. It is unlikely, though possible, the governor’s office remains fixed days in advance.

Scott Dawson (Republican candidate):

The people of Alabama have lost trust in their leadership and the way to regain that trust is by taking openness and transparency beyond what is normally expected. The corporate world talks about “exceeding expectations.” Can you imagine how much better Alabama would be if our leadership talked in those same terms?

That’s why I will implement a calendar policy to keep the people informed about how their governor is spending time in their service and more importantly, I will work to be sure that each moment of the day is devoted to the highest degree of ethical behavior and making Alabama a better place for everyone.

Mayor Walt Maddox via Chip Hill, Communications Director (Democrat candidate):

Walt Maddox not only believes transparency and accountability are vital, he’s taken action that proves it. For example, as Mayor of Tuscaloosa he implemented an online portal where anyone can access the details of city spending.  Announced last year, this online portal was established to provide information and data on the city’s budgetary revenues and spending as well as up-to-date crime reports and demographics for Tuscaloosa, among other features. This portal made city information more readily available while allowing taxpayers to see how funds are budgeted and, ultimately, where they are spent.

State Sen. Bill Hightower via Chris Brown, campaign advisor (Republican candidate):

Bill Hightower firmly believes that the Governor’s office does not belong to any one public official, but it instead belongs to the voters of Alabama. As Governor, Bill Hightower will be committed to transparency and making sure his public schedule is available so that the people of Alabama will know where and how his official time is being spent working for them.

Justice Sue Bell Cobb (Democrat candidate):

I believe it is paramount for public servants to be open and accountable to those they serve. I would absolutely implement a policy within my administration that the press should be notified in advance of my public schedule. Democracy relies on informed, engaged citizens, and it is the responsibility of leaders to offer themselves for dialogue with whom they serve. We will do just that in the governor’s office

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