Mary Tutwiler

Let the sun shine in

by Nathan Stubbs

Sometimes sunshine comes at a cost. The Daily Advertiser was looking into the arrest of former Ice Gator and current nightclub owner Eric Cloutier for allegedly laundering about $1.4 million through his clubs, Karma and Marley’s. They filed a public records request with the Louisiana Department of Revenue, Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control for copies of Cloutier’s state alcohol permits and renewals. The state told the Daily Advertiser the cost for the records would be $466.50, $1.50 for each of 311 pages. Meanwhile Lafayette Consolidated Government, which has a policy of transparency in government, provided copies of alcohol permits and applications to the daily at no cost.

The public records law directs state agencies to charge 25 cents per page for standard size copies. Other public bodies may charge what they deem to be “reasonable,” but an attorney general’s opinion has recommended that custodians follow the state agency fee schedule.

March 15-21 is known as Sunshine Week, when news organizations stress the need for transparency in government, including access to public records, which help cast light, or "sunshine," on how government works and how it spends our tax dollars.