Public records are powerful tools

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 2010

Public records are powerful tools.

This week, much of Alabama’s media, including employees of this newspaper, have spent time pouring over campaign finance records. We have downloaded and reviewed pages and pages of documents filed with the Alabama secretary of state and the local probate judge by candidates and by political action committees as required by the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

It is important that the public have access to this information so that voters can determine to whom candidates might owe political loyalty. Information about the largest contributors to local campaigns is included in today’s paper.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported it was the Alabama Education Association which provided every dollar to an organization for the $711,000 media blitz that helped Robert Bentley defeat Bradley Byrne in the Republican runoff for governor in July. The AP gleaned this information from reviewing quarterly filings with the Internal Revenue Service.

Certainly, the convenience provided to this information by the Web makes it easier for all of us to have access to this information. Our challenge is to deliver it in an easily understood package, and to let you know that you, too, can access the information if you seek more detail.