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New Mexico Telegram » Featured, Open Government » AG guide: Emails relating to public business subject to IPRA

AG guide: Emails relating to public business subject to IPRA

The latest version of the Inspection of Public Records Act Compliance Guide puts down Attorney General Gary King’s opinion on private emails that do public business.

This has been a recent issue with IPRA between open government advocates and journalists against some public officials.

The AG’s office has had the opinion that these are public records for years — but the very public addition is a nod to the recent battles from press and public over the public records on private email accounts.

New Mexico In Depth first reported on the significant addition.

“An e-mail relating to public business sent or received by a single member of a policymaking body is a public record regardless of whether the e-mail account used is a private or government account,” King’s spokesman Phil Sisneros told New Mexico In Depth.

The guide itself says:

Records used, created, received, maintained or held on behalf of a public body are public records just as if they were maintained by the public body itself. In this regard, if email is used to conduct public business, the email is a public record even though a personal account is used. The person using the personal account is effectively using, creating, receiving, maintaining or holding the public record on behalf of the public body. On the other hand, not every personal email of a public official is necessarily a public record. The communication must relate to public business and be maintained or held on behalf of a public body to be a public record.

Gwyneth Doland, Executive Director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, provided a statement on the change.

“It is the position of the Foundation for Open Government that email messages are public records if they meet the definition of a public record in the Inspection of Public Records Act, no matter what kind of email account (official or personal) is used to transmit or receive them, and irrespective of whether they constitute “public records” that an agency is obligated to retain under the Public Records Act,” the statement on the official position of NMFOG read.

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Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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