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Sunshine State?

April 2, 2014, 12:25 am

New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act—the state’s sunshine law that serves as the statutory tool for citizens to access government information—says that “all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of public officers and employees.” Gov. Susana Martinez is facing various court battles that accuse the Republican of violating that act by failing to furnish information related to her travel expenses, appointments and cell phone calls.

Most recently, her counsel argued in District Court that an injunction sought by the Associated Press to turn over the records would violate the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and that the wire service needs a warrant, the AP reports. The governor’s office argues that turning over records related to certain cell phone calls, security detail expenses and calendar appointments would create a security risk for the governor and her family. 

Martinez—whose office has declared her administration the “most transparent” in the state’s history—is making a novel argument. No New Mexico judge has upheld that it would violate that part of the US Constitution to compel a state agency to turn over records requested under sunshine law, according to the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.

Meanwhile Martinez’ Department of Finance and Administration has failed to respond to SFR’s June 2013 request for taxpayer expenses made by Martinez’ state-issued security detail as she makes out-of-state trips—many of them to fundraise on the national circuit. SFR’s September 2013 lawsuit against the governor seeking other records has yet to have a court hearing.

NMFOG Executive Director Susan Boe notes the process to compel the enforcement of IPRA through the courts is a long one. “Justice is slow,” she says.

 

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