Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad appointed two Drake faculty members to the newly created Iowa Public Information Board. Pending Senate approval, Kathleen Richardson, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Anthony Gaughan, assistant professor of law, will serve as part of the nine-member board.
The group will oversee open-meeting and open-records laws. Board members will give informal advice about the laws and investigate complaints and issue penalties.
“Up until now, the biggest weakness in the state’s open government ‘sunshine’ laws has been lack of enforcement,” Richardson says.
They will also assist government entities and Iowa residents in gaining access to public records and work to ensure government transparency.
Establishing rules and procedures for the board and hiring an executive director are on this year’s agenda for the new appointees.
“It will be fascinating to be a part of that process, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about the way government works from the inside, which I’ll be able to bring into the classroom,” Richardson says.
In addition to teaching, Richardson serves as the executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. She regularly researches, writes, and conducts trainings on open meeting and open record laws.
Gaughan’s expertise lies in civil procedure, election law, and laws of war and security. Before arriving at Drake, he practiced law as an attorney in the private sector.
“I encourage my students to be active in public service, and it is good for them to see that I practice what I preach,” Gaughan says.
If the Iowa Senate confirms the appointments, the two professors will serve until May 2016.