Saturday, April 4, 2009

Governor Signs Email Bill

Governor Richardson signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Joseph Cervantes that would clarify the status of emails under the Public Records Act of the state. In 2007 New Mexico State University refused to consider valid an email request by Cervantes to provide documentation, on the grounds that emails were neither "oral" nor "written." So they stalled in providing Cervantes with the information he requested. New Mexico Attorney General Gary King issued an opinion that since the law did not stipulate emails to be written forms of communication, they were not covered by the Public Records Act requirement that requests for information should be either "oral" or "written." This Orwellian logic (other terms come to mind as well) provided state agencies with a nice loophole for covering up and stalling. It has now been closed, but the attorney general could have saved taxpayers and Cervantes and the legislature and the governor a good deal of time and effort by simply stating the obvious: of course email requests are a form of written expression. Kudos to Heath Haussamen for covering this story widely, to Cervantes for following through on this, and shame on the attorney general for making them spend so much time on an issue that could have been resolved with a simple formal opinion.

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