A public records expert described the of the state government to release information on legislator office budgets "totally wrong" in an interview with Altadena Patch.
The records request was made last month by Altadena's representative, Assemblyman Anthony Portantin, D-La Cañada Flintridge, in an attempt to shed light on Democratic leadership's declaration that Portantino had and would have to .
Portantino is claiming that the move to issue furloughs was punishment for being the sole Democrat to vote against the state budget and issued the public records request in an attempt to prove his office budget does not exceed that of other legislators.
Peter Scheer of the First Amendement Coalition said in an interview Wednesday that even if state open records laws did not explicitly suggest that all budget information should be made public, it should be obvious that the public has a right to the information.
"Even if there were no open records law at all you would think that every government official would acknowledge that government budgets are the property of the public," Scheer said.
The move to deny Portantino's request did not come as a surprise to him though, he said.
"Whenever there is something that is potentially embarrassing they will look at the law and interpret something in a ridiculously broad way to justify withholding indisputably public information," Scheer said.
In rejecting the request, the Assembly's Rules Committee chief administrative officer Jon Waldie cited the budget information as being "correspondence of and to individual Members of the legislature and its staff" and said it could be exempt on the basis of being "preliminary drafts, notes, or legislative memoranda," which are exempt under the California Public Records Act.
Waldie did not return a call from Altadena Patch requesting comment on Wednesday.
Scheer is not the only one to take issue with the ruling: the Sacramento Bee said the denial "defies belief" in an editorial published on Wednesday.
Editor's note: This story has been changed from its original version with a direct quote of the section of the letter that refers to the budget information as being "correspondence" between the legislator and his staff.