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For Galvin, a satisfying apology

The Pioneer Institute was in high dudgeon a month ago during a nasty dispute with Secretary of State William F. Galvin over his role in enforcing the Massachusetts public records law.

“Few officials have worked harder to protect the government from the public right to transparency, ruling time and time against disclosure,’’ the Institute said in a statement posted on its website April 8.

It sneered at Galvin’s argument that he had tried but given up taking appeals to the Attorney General’s Office to legally enforce disclosures by public agencies, after the AG consistently refused to act.

“It’s an interesting argument, and one that’s easily enough validated by a copy of the correspondence between Galvin’s office and the AG,” the think tank said.


Galvin, who has been on the defensive over criticism he has not done enough to force public agencies to be transparent, obliged, sending the group a long trail of emails and correspondence with the AG’s office.

That led to a highly unusual public mea culpa by the Institute, which has been trying to shed its long-time conservative image and emerge as a nonpartisan think tank.

“Having read those emails, we agree with you and stand corrected. The records your office provided to us clearly show that previous attorney general, the final arbiters in open meeting and public record law disputes, undermined your office,” the group told Galvin.

“To your credit, you challenged these responses from the Attorney General’s Office with a clear reprimand,’’ the Institute wrote in the public posting. “So we would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Secretary Galvin, for trying to advance transparency.”

The apology had to be music to Galvin’s ears.

“I am appreciative of the fact that they have acknowledged my frustration with the law and that I tried to do something about it,’’ Galvin said.

Frank Phillips can be reached at phillips@globe.com.