by Christopher P. Kenney, Associate, Richard A. Harpootlian
*This is part of ACSblog's Symposium on Whistleblowers.
“The purpose of the [Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)] is to protect the public from secret government activity[,]” announced the South Carolina Supreme Court in S.C. Tax Comm'n v. Gaston Copper Recycling Corp., a landmark public records case brought to resolve the public’s right to review tax commission records explaining why a corporation received a massive property tax reduction to the detriment of local schools. Sunshine laws have long been prophylactic, but current events have rekindled the public’s interest in knowing its government’s business. One South Carolina-focused non-profit saw a need and moved to fill it. Public Access to Public Records (PAPR) is dedicated to obtaining public records through FOIA requests and posting the records in an online, searchable database. Led by two former newspapermen and a lawyer, the organization’s first outing—a request for financial records from a local prosecutor’s office—has proven eventful.