The California Assembly says the public has no right to see lawmakers' current office budgets and spending projections, documents that could show whether punishment is doled out for key votes.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino raised the issue last month, saying that his budget was slashed shortly after casting the lone Democratic vote in the Assembly against this year's controversial budget.
Portantino, The Bee and other media outlets submitted Legislative Open Records Act requests seeking, among other things, current office budgets for each Assembly member and any changes to them.
The answer came Monday: No way.
Officials with the legislature claim that the requested documents may contain personal information about individual staffers. This is a specious objection, easily solved by some basic redactions that won't affect the substance of the documents.
They also claim that the salaries of legislative staff are already public, but ignore the fact that the information is usually released one to two years after the fact, giving the public no recourse for real-time grievances.
No matter how many excuses legislative officials offer, Occam's Razor is probably sufficient to explain their intransigence: people who are hiding something generally have something to hide.