Watchdog group concerned about Senate photo, filming rule
The N.M. Foundation for Open Government sent a letter to Senate committee chairs and ranking members today stating that it is “gravely concerned” that senators are placing “new and unconstitutional restrictions” on people wanting to photograph or film public meetings.
The letter came after FOG Executive Director Sarah Welsh witnessed an exchange between me and Sens. John Arthur Smith and Sue Wilson Beffort during Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting. Smith and Beffort stopped a hearing to ask who I was and why I wanted to photograph before deciding that I could proceed.
“…we witnessed the rule being implemented in a way that threatens citizens’ First Amendment rights,” Welsh wrote in the letter to senators.
She wrote that the exchange between me and the senators “indicates that permission was “predicated on having an identity and a profession or purpose that met with committee approval.”
“But the right to film public meetings is not conditional – it is guaranteed to all citizens by the First Amendment,” Welsh wrote.
The new rule, approved Wednesday on a vote of 35-3, requires permission from the chair and ranking member before someone can photograph or film a committee meeting. Previously, permission was not required.
Welsh wrote that FOG wanted to share its concerns with senators because “we trust that it was not the Senate’s intention to infringe upon fundamental First Amendment freedoms within the walls of the capitol building.”
Leave a response
You must be logged in to post a comment.