Mitchell W. Pearlman, the founding Executive Director of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission and a name synonymous with open government and press freedom in the state, was honored Wednesday when the board of directors of the CT Foundation for Open Government created an annual award in his name.
The Mitchell W. Pearlman Freedom of Information Award will be given to government officials, members of the press and other residents of Connecticut who make significant efforts to foster transparency in government, disclose information vital to the public and otherwise ensure that citizens can see their government at work and respond in kind.
Pearlman, who served as the CT FOIC’s first executive director for 30 years, has been recognized as an international expert on government transparency, information policy, electronic information issues, privacy and data protection, freedom of the press and administrative law. He has consulted with officials in over 20 nations and various U.S. states and Canadian provinces and has testified as an expert witness before the U.S. Congress. He is currently a lecturer in the Journalism Department of the University of Connecticut.
“No one has done more to ensure the people’s right to know in Connecticut and, perhaps, around the world than Mitch has,” said William S. Fish Jr., CFOG’s president and a partner in the law firm Hinckley Allen. “He has been a stalwart public official, often in the face of powerful forces that wanted to keep the public’s business secret. He has been a teacher, a mentor and an inspiration. No one deserves to have a freedom of information award named after him more than Mitch.”
After the CFOG board of directors voted unanimously to create the award, Fish announced that it would be bestowed annually beginning in Fall 2022 to one or more recipients – local or state officials, journalists, private citizens or others – based on a selection process conducted by a CFOG committee. Nominations will be sought and accepted during the Spring and Summer of 2022 and the award will be given at an event in the Fall.
“I have always believed in the great wisdom of Justice Brandeis’ observation that sunlight is the best disinfectant,” said Pearlman, who lives with his wife Susan in Glastonbury, CT. “If government is to be by and for the people, then the people have to be able to see and hear it, and take part in it should they choose, in the most informed manner possible. I’ve been lucky to work with great professionals and courageous public officials who have believed that a democracy cannot work unless government is open for all to access.”