My policy on posting emails to me on the State Legislature public page

I have been looking forward to the opportunity to easily post my official emails to a public page on the internet. I have made great efforts to be open, transparent, and accessible to my constituents. I like to contrast that with the claims by the Obama administration to be the most open and transparent in history.

In my frequent emails and dialogues with my constituents I ask them if I can post their emails either with or without their names on my blog site. I do this to encourage dialogue among the residents in my districts. I want everyone to have their ideas and opinions aired publicly and debated on their merits. I want to have opinions other than my own to be seen, heard, and discussed. I love the “arena of ideas” and want the best ones to succeed. I have had people to help me see different perspectives than I previously had. I don’t want to have differing opinions to be shouted down or denigrated as is frequently the case in social media. I am convinced that the more sincere and thorough the discussions of the issues, the better the solutions can be.

I want to be supportive of the needs and issues of the residents of my district. Some have brought very serious and sometimes painful and personal issues to me as their representative. I feel a strong obligation to be supportive of their concerns even if I may disagree. I want to maintain their confidences. I consider it my obligation to represent them the best that I can at the state level. For this reason I consider any issue that they share with me to be an important issue.  Even if I disagree with them, since I have the obligation to represent them I will hold our discussion in confidence.

At the same time I get some really nutty emails from people outside my district. Nutty is the nice way to say bizarre.

And I also get lots of people from outside of my district that want to pressure me or encourage me into voting in a way that is different than my constituents would have me vote. These include both registered lobbyists and private citizens. However, since I consider that to be a violation of the trust that my voters have in me to represent their interests, I ignore these requests out of hand. I certainly cannot jeopardize the support and trust of the voters that elected me to represent them.

For these reasons, I will post any and all forms of lobbying for my vote that comes by email from anyone that does not live in my district to the public page on the Utah State Legislature’s web site. I consider this a type of ‘public shaming’ web site. I hope to discourage people that don’t live in my district from trying to distract me from my assigned tasks and obligations as a representative of the good people of Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain.

So let this be a warning, if you send me and email and it seeks to persuade me to vote in a particular way and you don’t live in Saratoga Springs or Eagle Mountain, then your email and your contact information will be made public for all of the world (and not just the NSA) to see.

There are some exceptions that I would like to clarify. Any emails from other Legislators I also consider confidential, so I will not post them on the public email site. The same is true for any official emails from any other branch of government. Any emails from individuals or groups that are part of legislation that I or others are working on that are still protected will not be posted until those bills are public. I will also not post any emails that would jeopardize the safety or security of anyone. I will try to redact personal contact information if I am able to do that.

If you have an opinion on legislation you should contact your own legislators and let my constituents contact me.

However, if you live in my district I will maintain your confidence and trust. I may ask if I can post it to my blog site for discussion, but I will not post it without your approval.

Views: 533

Comment by David Lifferth on January 3, 2014 at 8:43pm

As you can tell from my policy, that I take representing my district very seriously. I want them to see what kind of influence that people outside my district are trying to have on me. I want my constituents to be aware of that so I can be accountable to them.

Comment by David Lifferth on January 4, 2014 at 7:13am

Thomas, I see your point and I agree. However, if a bill is still protected then posting these emails would have the effect of "un-protecting them". As I said, they will be made public when the bill is public so that my voters can see them and verify that I am properly representing their interests.

Comment by David Lifferth on January 4, 2014 at 9:20am

Protecting a bill is a practice that allows a bill to be drafted and improved until it is made public. I typically have my bills as public, (examples: my charter school bill, my federal parks bill, my tire retread bill, etc.). But there are times that it does make sense to fine tune a bill before it is made public. I think that I have a single education bill that is protected. I am doing so that I can get feedback from the stake holders and fine tune the numbers before I make it public. The funny thing is that I had a reporter call and ask me about that protected bill. I am not sure how they found out about it, because it is not listed on the Legislative web site.

Comment by David Lifferth on January 4, 2014 at 11:10am
I appreciate your thoughts. As you can tell, I am among the most open and accessible elected officials in the state. At every opportunity I will show all of the work I am doing. Not every one sees things the way I do, and since much of politics is a team sport, I have to work with their parameters.

I was elected by the voters in my District, and I am choosing to treat each of them fairly and evenly. When you run against me next fall, you can use this as your wedge issue.
Comment by David Lifferth on January 4, 2014 at 1:20pm

If it comes appears to come from a national organization or a local organization instead of an individual voter with a personal concern, then I will post it for all the world to see.

Comment by Tobin Gardner on February 10, 2014 at 6:13pm
I like it. Seems fair and a good idea.


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