James Duff Lyall: The value of transparency and government accountability
The Vermont ACLU helped VTDigger obtain critical records about the viability of the state’s EB-5 program after the Vermont Attorney General’s office blocked access to official communication between the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
Together, the Vermont ACLU and VTDigger sued the state for records. While the lawsuit was not successful, the legal fight over records put pressure on the Scott administration to release information to the public about the fact that the federal agency questioned the state’s role in the alleged fraud at Jay Peak and ultimately decided to terminate the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center.
Our democracy relies on a free and independent press—one that can inform and educate, foster dialogue and debate, challenge authority and speak truth to power. If we want to live in a state where our institutions are accountable to the people they serve, we need journalism that is unafraid to ask tough questions and expose hard truths, empowering us to learn and grow together, to make needed changes, and to do better. And that’s why we must remain vigilant in defense of the free press, especially now.
— James Duff Lyall
James Duff Lyall, is the new executive director of the ACLU of Vermont. He has worked with VTDigger on litigation to increase and improve transparency and accountability for Vermont state government.
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