What are they trying to hide?

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them. Just enter your email in the box on the top right.

Today, Andy wrote a great column on the NPRI and Nevada Press Association's transparency survey, and the candidates who did and did not respond.


Citizens have a right to know how their government spends their money and makes other decisions. The reason for this is spelled out clearly in both the Declaration of Independence and Nevada's constitution. The Declaration says it this way:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
Nevada's constitution states:
All men are by Nature free and equal and have certain inalienable rights among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; Acquiring, Possessing and Protecting property and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness[.] Sec: 2. All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people;
Our forefathers formed government to protect their rights, and government must be accountable to the citizens it was created to serve. This accountability can't exist without transparency.

This is why NPRI and the Nevada Press Association teamed up to conduct a legislative candidate survey on six transparency issues ranging from open meetings to campaign-finance reform to open records. We released the results of that survey earlier this week, because we wanted you and every voter in the state to know what these candidates thought on specific transparency-related issues.

I'm happy to report that of the 60 candidates who responded, overwhelming majorities supported increasing transparency in important ways, ranging from increased penalties for officials who violate open-records laws to applying the open-meetings law to the Nevada Legislature.

But I'm extremely disappointed by two things. First, the lack of incumbents who responded. We had 10 incumbent Republican lawmakers respond and only two incumbent Democrats, including former state senator Sheila Leslie. I urge you to ask every candidate in your district to complete the survey and send us the results. You and other voters deserve to know where they stand - before they get to Carson City.

Second, as reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal article on the survey, a "Democratic Party source said his candidates boycotted the survey because of NPRI's involvement. He called the Las Vegas think tank a 'right-wing organization' ..."

While NPRI is certainly a free-market institute - and proud of it - this survey wasn't and isn't about NPRI. It's about candidates telling voters where they stand on transparency issues before they get to the insulated world of Carson City.

Besides, transparency isn't - or at least shouldn't be - a partisan issue. For all the talk we hear from those on the Left about "dialogue" and "compromise," here was a chance to "dialogue" on one issue that should bring people from all sides of the political aisle together - transparency - and those Democrats didn't want to tell you, the voters, where they stood.

Now, if those Democratic candidates want to conduct and publicize their own survey on these significant transparency issues, great. Never let the messenger get in the way of the message.

But unless they do that, their en masse refusal to take a stand on these vital transparency issues makes it clear that they'd rather leave the public in the dark.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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