Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press
In this March 31, 2011, file photo House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., right, accompanied by the committee's ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., presides over the committee's hearing on the Freedom of Information Act on Capitol Hill in Washington.

This year's Independence Day marked 47 years since the landmark Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into federal law — yet Americans are still distrustful of government. A 2013 Pew Research Center poll showed that only 26 percent of Americans surveyed say they can trust government in Washington "almost always or most of the time" — among the lowest ratings since 1960.

FOIA established our right to access government records and to know what our government is doing — both its successes and failures. Exercising our right to know gives the public power to contribute to our government policy and to hold our government accountable. FOIA has enabled the public to ensure the health of our democracy and our own well-being. Only because of open records do Utahns know that certain campaign donations to the current and the former attorney general created ethical questions. FOIA and Utah's Government Records and Management Act (GRAMA) laws are only as good as we demand they be.

The key to a healthy, open and trusted government is public participation. This FOIA anniversary, exercise your right to know by attending a government meeting, contacting an elected official or visiting a government website.

Jenn Gonnelly

West Valley City