State open government laws and the federal Freedom of Information Act won’t help journalists seeking information directly from Native American tribal governments. As sovereign nations, the 566 federally recognized tribes operate apart from those statutes. Only because Maine’s unique statutory framework treats tribes as municipal governments does that state’s open records law apply when tribes communicate in their municipal capacities with other governments.
A female student complained to Oklahoma State University police in January that her ex-boyfriend had secretly videotaped them having sex in an on-campus apartment that the student newspaper identified as a football player’s residence. OSU officials redacted the ex-boyfriend’s name and other identifying information from the incident report released to the news media.
News that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and some of her aides had routinely used their private Yahoo! e-mail accounts to conduct state business renewed concerns that government officials are transacting public matters through private communication channels to skirt open records laws and avoid public scrutiny.