SFR's Public-Records Fight Profiled in Columbia Journalism Review

SFR's battle with Gov. Susana Martinez' office over a June 2012 public-records request has made headlines at Columbia Journalism Review, a key media industry publication.

Yesterday, CJR reporter Sarah Laskow interviewed SFR for a CJR story about our push to get emails sent from state officials' private accounts concerning public business.

SFR filed a request last June, under New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act, for emails sent from certain government officials' private accounts. SFR filed the IPRA request as a sort of test, since some of the emails had already been leaked and were in the public domain.

However, after a two-month delay, the governor's office provided only one email—and not one of the ones that had been leaked. Last August, SFR filed a formal complaint with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office, which is responsible for enforcing IPRA.

The AG investigated the matter and, on Feb. 5, wrote a letter to the governor's office stating that its response to SFR's IPRA request was insufficient. The AG's office gave the governor's office two options: (a) give SFR the requested records; (b) provide SFR with a valid explanation for denying us the records. Public bodies that violate IPRA may be liable for up to $100 per day in penalties (in this case, upwards of $18,000 since August).

SFR has also reported on how the Albuquerque Journal revised the tone of a story about the AG's letter.

In a quote to CJR, Ken Bunting, the executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, highlighted the complexity of the private-email-for-public-business issue:

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has maintained that emails concerning public business are public record, regardless of whether they're sent on public or private email account.

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