While FOG maintains that any correspondence relating to state business is a public record regardless if it is on a public or private email account, FOG recognizes that public records on private computers makes accessing those public records more complicated.
The question over access to private emails used to do public business has been the latest battle in open government over the past few months.
It has gained more attention since emails relating to public business from personal email addresses have been leaked to the press.
Following the scandal, Martinez ordered state employees to use state emails for public business. But the executive order does not relate to lawmakers, only to those who work for the state.
FOG says that the lawmakers should voluntarily use their official state emails for public correspondence.
It doesn’t matter if your email address ends in .com or .gov, if you’re sending a public record then it’s a public record subject to IPRA.
— NMFOG (@nmfog) January 4, 2013
In a statement to the press, FOG says:
Because storing public records in private email accounts can make it difficult for records custodians to access those records, and because records custodians’ conscientious efforts to retrieve public records from such accounts will inevitably impinge on public officials’ legitimate privacy interests, FOG strongly recommends that all emails related to public business are sent using official accounts.
Not all legislators list their state-issued emails as their official contacts.
Only 29 of the 70 members of the House list their nmlegis.gov email addresses as contact information. The Senate has a better rate; 26 of the 42 members list their nmlegis.gov email address as their email contact.
Sens. Lee Cotter, R-Las Cruces, and John Pinto, D-Gallup, do not list any email addresses. In the House, Reps. Tom Anderson, R-Albuquerque, Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, Henry “Kiki” Saavedra, D-Albuquerque and Nick Salazar, D-Ohkay Owingeh, do not have email addresses listed.