Public political expert says health transparency is important, but not required

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 2:12 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey had her first public appearance in nearly three weeks.

Speculations about her health surfaced during her appearance, to which her office dispelled. The governor refused to say yes or no when asked if she had undergone medical treatment.

“I assure you, I’m fine. Every day I give thanks to God for giving me a clean bill of health,” said Ivey on Monday.

Citizens tend to expect transparency from state leaders because most of what they do is supported by tax dollars. That’s why open record laws and other checks are in place to keep a tab on what they’re doing. These are accessible through most governmental websites, but something that isn’t our health records.’ This leaves it up to leaders to disclose how they are.

“I gotta clean bill of health from the doctors. That’s what matters,” said Ivey.

After speculations about Governor Kay Ivey’s health arose, UAB public policy professor, Peter Jones, says Ivey might just not want to share.

“And really where most politicians get in trouble is not so much, the being unhealthy or maybe having a health scare,” said Jones. “It’s how they handle it with the public.”

Jones explains that public leaders are allowed privacy, but not at the same level as their constituents. He adds that being unhealthy won’t always negatively impact their role in whatever office they hold.

“You can maybe make the claim two of our most unhealthy presidents, FDR and JFK. FDR had four terms, JFK [had] his first term shorten, but they were fairly unhealthy and still enacted or held out, excuse me executed the duties of their office with a with pretty round support,” said Jones.

There is a political culture in Alabama of not always being transparent, so Jones says the governor’s actions are not completely out of the norm.

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