Dr. Chad Painter, a communication professor at ENMU, was announced as one of the four recipients of the 2015 New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (NMFOG) William S. Dixon Amendment Freedom Award in July.
“It was awesome,” Painter said about his award acceptance ceremony on Wednesday.
Painter said he received a phone call one morning during the summer while doing his work. He said he was surprised to be informed that he was selected as the recipient for the education category.
Three additional award recipients included Mark Leech in the government category, Peter St. Cyr in the journalism category and Kent Walz for the lifetime achievement award.
Honorees were awarded at NMFOG's annual "Your Right To Know Luncheon" on October 7 at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque.
“There were a couple of hundred people in the ceremony,” Painter said. “I was awarded for what I did in media law class and the Chase for open records.”
In the media laws class and while advising the Chase, he trained students in the principles and tenets of access and open records, according to Painter.
“This year, students in the media law [class] requested for the budget and blueprint for the ongoing stadium,” Painter said, adding that students are taught to request for public records.
Painter said one example of requests done by the Chase in the past included a request for the salaries of staff in the college of fine arts.
Painter said open records are a unique part of the United States’ system, and that it was citizen’s right to know what the government is going to do with their money.
Future journalists are encouraged to dig up public records at ENMU, according to Painter.
“It’s not only our right but our duty,” said Painter, “to keep the government accountable and transparent by doing so.”
NMFOG is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit member organization, which has served New Mexico since 1990.
FOG educates the public and public officials about sunshine laws, assists individuals who have been denied access to public records or meetings, and advocates for greater public access.