Buncombe County commissioners vote to approve confidentiality agreement in contravention of public records law

The Asheville Citizen-Times has reported a decision by four Buncombe county commissioners to sign a nondisclosure agreement as part of efforts to land an employer. The agreement prevents signatories from revealing details about the company’s operations.

The Citizen-Times quotes SMVT attorney Amanda Martin for her reaction:

…elected officials already have a layer of confidentiality required under state law, said Amanda Martin, an attorney for the North Carolina Press Association.

“One thing I would point out is the public records law sets forth the confidentiality obligations of public officials,” Martin said.

These agreements require more confidentiality then the statutes require, Martin said, and “that is the problem. They essentially require public officials to break the public records law, in my opinion.”

…what commissioners were asked to sign defines “confidential information” too broadly and has an unclear end date.

“I will have no problem with elected officials signing a document saying, ‘I will abide by the confidentiality requirements of state law,'” Martin said, adding that this agreement added another layer beyond that.

You can read the entire article here.