Christine Tatum, President, (303) 881-8702
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211 or (317) 507-8911
INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists, which works to improve and protect journalism, has smoked out “Senator Secrecy” – also known as Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).
Kyl admitted publicly Thursday that he placed a secret hold on Senate Bill 849, also known as the Open Government Act of 2007. The bill would significantly reform the federal Freedom of Information Act, which is one of the strongest tools Americans have to supervise the inner workings of government and to hold elected officials accountable.
The Senate bill has bipartisan support and the unanimous approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a nearly identical version of the bill in March. The secret hold blocked the bill from a Senate vote on May 24.
SPJ members helped unmask Kyl by asking every U.S. senator whether he or she placed the secret hold. Members reported their findings online.
Today, Ryan Patmintra, Kyl’s press secretary, confirmed that Kyl placed the hold to allow for more negotiations among him, bill co-sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the U.S. Department of Justice. It is no secret that Kyl has concerns about the Open Government Act, Patmintra said.
“If Sen. Kyl's concerns are no secret, then why would he insist on working from the shadows to place a hold on this very important legislation?” asked Christine Tatum, SPJ's President and an assistant features editor at The Denver Post. “The irony of secretly blocking a vote on a bill that would make government more transparent is supreme. Sen. Kyl should feel pretty silly.”
Kyl is behind another bill that concerns SPJ. Known as the Kyl Amendment, this bill would criminalize the leaking -- and publishing -- of classified information.
“So, Sen. Kyl is ‘Senator Secrecy’ in more ways than one,” Tatum said.
The Society of Professional Journalists is one of the nation’s largest and oldest journalism –advocacy organizations. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ and SDX, please visit www.spj.org.