What is legitimately “off-limits” and what does the public have the right to know?

Continued coverage on the recent announcement that Senator Pat Wiggins will not seek another term has created interesting conversation surrounding that question.

PublicCEO’s editorial, “Senator Wiggins Does the Right Thing,” garnered mixed emotions from readers, including a letter to the editor (“Wiggins Editorial ‘Offensive and Embarrassing“) that earned a number of reader comments. The posts in the comment section opened the discussion regarding whether or not facts about an elected officials private life should be for public consumption.

Malcolm Maclachlan’s piece in Capitol Weekly, “What is off-limits in the lives of our elected officials?” poses an excellent question and makes some interesting points:

“Reporting on personal matters – medical or otherwise – raises issues of ethics and taste in the lives of elected officials. What is legitimately “off-limits” and what does the public have the right to know? And even if electeds wish to keep certain information confidential, what responsibilities do reporters have when it comes to information about members’ personal lives?

The case of Pat Wiggins underscores some of the murkiness of these questions, and is a reminder that, for good or bad, the concept of a Capitol community does indeed exist.

Does this change more or less at the local government levels? Let’s begin the conversation. I look forward to hearing back from our audience on this topic to be published in the next few days. Send your comments through the form below or e-mail jspencer@publicceo.com.