October 19, 2010; Source: Des Moines Register | Conventional wisdom would suggest that if a nonprofit group receives almost all its operating funds from taxpayers, it must comply with requests for records about how it is spending the public’s money.

Apparently it doesn’t work that way in Iowa, where the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) has rejected requests from state lawmakers to make public past employees’ compensation records as part of an investigation into claims of excessive salaries and questionable spending. Instead, IASB, which the Des Moines Register says is funded “almost entirely by taxpayers,” maintains it can’t voluntarily turn over records that pre-date legislation enacted in July that subjected the group to the state’s open-records law.

In response to requests for the records, IASB has told the state to issue a subpoena. According to the Des Moines Register, IASB believes that such a move would provide protection from former employees who are threatening to sue if compensation information is made public. IASB has also asked the state’s attorney general for a ruling on whether it can be compelled to disclose documents that pre-date the July legislation.—Bruce Trachtenberg