Reading the New York Times story about the Environmental Protection Agency’s illegal use of propaganda, I find myself wishing this particular law applied to Rhode Island or, better, that Rhode Island had a similar one for state government:
The Environmental Protection Agency engaged in “covert propaganda” and violated federal law when it blitzed social media to urge the public to back an Obama administration rule intended to better protect the nation’s streams and surface waters, congressional auditors have concluded.
The ruling by the Government Accountability Office, which opened its investigation after a report on the agency’s practices in The New York Times, drew a bright line for federal agencies experimenting with social media about the perils of going too far to push a cause. Federal laws prohibit agencies from engaging in lobbying and propaganda.
This has long been a problem in Rhode Island, but it appears to have gotten notably worse under the current governor, Gina Raimondo. The entire state government, including quasi-public agencies, has begun acting in a way indistinguishable from a non-profit advocacy organization, complete with selective research, public relations crafting, and multiple agencies (including the governor’s own official Web site) promoting her and her policies. And that’s all without even getting into the tighter lid on public information.