Casey Andersen, whose efforts revealed secret meetings in Cassia County, received the 2016 Max Dalton Open Government Award from the Idaho Newspaper Foundation. He received an art plate and $1,000.
Cassia County commissioners had been meeting in secret, holding “working lunches” outside the public’s view and violating state laws that require noticed meetings, the foundation said in a press release. Andersen took advantage of public record laws to trigger an investigation into the board, which pledged to stop meeting in secret.
Andersen’s efforts drew the attention of the Times-News in Twin Falls, which began deeper reporting into Cassia County government. The newspaper was able to prove that a high-profile city-county committee had violated state open meetings laws, as well. The newspaper’s reporting, inspired by Andersen’s efforts, triggered an investigtion by the Attorney General’s Office. That probe eventually found no violation by the committee.
The Max Dalton Open Government Award has been given each year since 1999 to a citizen or group judged to be an outspoken advocate of openness in either public records or public meetings on the state or local level.
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For details of the award and past recipients, visit www.idnewsfound.org.