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A small victory for open records

A small victory for open records
State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), left, speaks on a bill at the Capitol in Sacramento in January 2014. Yee was indicted in March 2014 on charges of accepting $62,000 in campaign contributions in return for legislative favors and offering to arrange the sale of machine guns and shoulder-fired missiles to an undercover FBI agent posing as a mob figure. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Who was former Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) taking meetings with in the days leading up to the federal indictment on corruption and gunrunning charges? We may soon know.

A Sacramento judge ruled this week that the calendars and other office documents of Yee and another indicted former state senator can't be kept secret.

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The ruling by Judge Michael Kenny stemmed from a lawsuit by reporters at the Los Angeles News Group and Bay Area News Group (clusters of newspapers all owned by Digital First Media) who filed public records requests to access documents regarding specific people named in the indictments of Yee and Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello).

The Senate reviewed and then rejected the request, saying that information was exempt from open-records laws.

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Judge Kenny disagreed -- about most of the document requests, in any case. He didn't, for example, say Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon should hand over his office records.

The Senate should not appeal this ruling (update: as of Friday afternoon, de Leon says he won't appeal -- good for him) even though it sets a worrisome precedent -- well, worrisome for legislators who don't want the public to know who is lobbying them and for what. But as representatives of the public, perhaps they ought not to be taking meetings that, if came to light, might get them in trouble.

Follow me on Twitter @marielgarzaLAT

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