Legislature considers bill to open Foundation records

Tomy Hillers

Does the Iowa Legislature have the right to open the records of the ISU Foundation? A study bill is being considered by an Iowa House of Representatives subcommittee to make all Foundation financial records public. According to the bill, all contributors who are not an individual or do not specify anonymity will be made public information. The bill would amend the current state code which releases only financial records of state institutions as public information.The ISU Foundation is the only not-for-profit entity on campus dealing with donations to the university. Currently, most of its financial records are not public.The bill was added to the agenda last week in the State Government committee of the House. Rep. Janet Metcalf, R-Urbandale, State Government committee chairwoman, said she has not had time to review the bill because of all the new bills the committee is facing.Bill Monroe, president of the Iowa Newspaper Association, said the INA stands in support of the bill because “there is no situation in which keeping a secret is a good idea.”Monroe said he has discussed the bill with the leaders of the ISU Foundation. While he said he respects the opinions of the Foundation to protect their donors, he said the records should be public information.Bill Kunerth of Ames, who proposed the bill, said the general public has the right to have access to the financial documents of the Foundation.Tom Mitchell, president of the ISU Foundation, said the records should be kept private, because the Foundation must not compromise the anonymity of the contributors.Presented below are the arguments of both sides.