The alternative weekly out of Santa Fe has been battling with the governor’s office over what the paper says are IPRA violations for months. The paper recently won the prestigious William S. Dixon Freedom Award from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government for its coverage of the use of private emails for public purposes.
The complaint alleges that the governor’s office engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” or “prior restraint” by refusing to respond to inquiries from the reporter.
The newspaper cites “denials and delays” in seeking documents related to gubernatorial pardons, legislative confirmation of a cabinet secretary and the use of private emails to do public business.
“The Inspection of Public Records Act has sharp enforcement teeth, but only if requestors pursue court action,” Santa Fe Reporter editor Julie Ann Grimm said in a statement. “We’ve filed this case because the Office of the Governor has repeatedly failed to comply with the state law. We can’t just sit back and wait to see what happens next. We hope the courts will remind the governor and all government officials that transparency is more than a buzz word. It matters. State law matters.”
The Santa Fe Reporter is owned by City of Roses Newspaper Company.
“Our public record requests have been part of legitimate news gathering efforts. It’s unfortunate that we have to file suit to make the public’s business public, but the Governor has left us little choice,” Mark Zusman, an owner of City of Roses, said in a statement.
New Mexico in Depth and the Las Cruces Sun-News filed a lawsuit with the Human Services Department over the refusal to release a behavioral health audit that the department says is exempt since it is part of an ongoing investigation.
* The Morning Word appears on the Santa Fe Reporter website and I produce the Weekly Word podcast with SFR. SFR doesn’t have any editorial control over the Morning Word or, of course, anything to do with NM Telegram.
Here is a copy of the complaint: