Three sets of Massachusetts public agencies are facing stiff competition for an ignoble accolade: most secretive.
State Police, three different district attorneys, and the state’s court system are finalists for the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ Golden Padlock Award, which is granted annually to the most secretive government agency or individual.
Among the fellow nominees are Michigan State University’s coverup of serial sexual abuse by Larry Nassar; former Alabama attorney general Luther Strange, who withheld records confirming his role in an alleged bribery conspiracy; and the Charleston, S.C., County School District for refusing to release documents showing the district had settled complaints brought by children claiming an employee had sexually molsted them.
State Police, which won the award in 2015, and the state’s comptroller’s office were nominated for keeping secret the pay of hundreds of employees based on an obscure state policy that allows employees to request their salaries be kept confidential if they or a relative have ever been a victim of a crime.
Also up for the award are three district attorneys who continuously refused to comply with a request for a basic list of cases they prosecuted and their outcomes, even after a Superior Court judge ordered them to hand the records over.
The Massachusetts court system, which was the subject of a Globe Spotlight investigation that revealed police, politicians, and other public officials have had their criminal cases dismissed at closed door hearings is also a nominee.
“Their skill, wit and perseverance in concealing hard truths from the people they serve illustrates a deep commitment to personal service at the public’s expense by whatever means necessary,” Robert Cribb, chair of IRE’s Golden Padlock Committee, said in a statement.
Amanda Kaufman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.