A five-term Mississippi legislator wants to slap a minimum $25,000 fine on anyone who discloses information from a public body’s executive session.
State. Rep. Omeria Scott, D-Laurel, said discussions that take place in a closed-door meeting shouldn’t be shared and that doing so violates the spirit of Mississippi’s Open Meetings Law. The law specifies 12 reasons a public body can meet privately but doesn’t prohibit anyone from revealing details about the meeting afterward.
“There needs to be teeth in the law so that people understand that when government goes into executive session, there is a reason for it,” Scott said.
Her proposal, House Bill 290, penalizes tattletales $25,000 for the first offense, $50,000 for the second offense, and $75,000 for the third offense, with increasing increments for every subsequent violation.
But the head of the Mississippi Ethics Commission, which would take responsibility for enforcing the proposed rule, opposes the bill.
“I disagree that it’s a violation of the spirit of the law,” Tom Hood said. “There is a misconception that if there’s a reason to go into executive session, you have to go into executive session, and that you can’t discuss what happened in executive session. Those two things aren’t true.”