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Shame on Connecticut legislators for advancing a misguided bill (SB 1153) to exempt the University of Connecticut and other state institutions from the open records law and keep their taxpayer-funded activities in the dark.

Shortly after I arrived as a student at UConn in 2004, I used Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act to expose how the school was performing wasteful and cruel experiments on monkeys. In these taxpayer-funded tests, the primates had holes drilled into their skulls, their brains damaged with acid, and steel coils implanted into their eyeballs before being killed and dissected.

Justin Goodman

As the Hartford Courant and others covered extensively, I subsequently used FOIA to uncover how UConn faculty had repeatedly violated federal animal protection laws, including leaving monkeys to suffer from painful infections and violently dragging a monkey so hard by his neck that his eyes bled.

As a result of the abuses I exposed via the state’s FOIA law, federal authorities cited UConn for violations and required them to return funding that was misspent in the monkey lab. UConn’s monkey lab was shut down and has never reopened, but the school has unfortunately continued to experiment on other animals with tens of millions of tax dollars and regularly violate the law. Now, UConn wants the state to essentially let it operate its animal labs in secret.

The media, legislature and Gov. Ned Lamont should reject this brazen attack on government transparency. A growing majority of taxpayers oppose government animal testing and have a right to know how their money is being spent so they can hold public institutions accountable for waste, fraud and abuse.

Justin Goodman is Senior Vice President, Advocacy and Public Policy at the White Coat Waste Project