Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Morales IPRA Battle

UPDATE: 12-2-13 9 a.m. More on the "IPRA Battle" at the Santa Fe New Mexican site

Two campaigns for gubernatorial candidates are using the state Inspection of Public Records Act to bludgeon each other.
Sen. Morales

Last week state Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City, who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for governor sent an official public-records request to several state agencies for all emails between state employees and Jay McCleskey, Gov. Susana Martinez's political consultant, for records of “meetings of state officials, and or staff with Mr. McCleskey regarding public information which official state business was discussed.”

That was Nov. 26. The very next day, McCleskey hit back. An employee Stephen Dinkel, sent an IPRA request to the Legislative Council asking for  "Any and all emails to or from Sen. Morales that discuss public business, including public business emails sent to the gmail address Morales lists on the legislative website of, "hcm260[at]gmail.com"

The request asked for any calendars or schedules used by Morales and "Any and all records of meetings with anyone outside of state government regarding public information in which official state business was discussed, including any and all meetings with lobbyists."

In an email to potential donors, Morales described this move as " a counterattack" saying the request was "for my personal correspondence, for no reason other than the hope of finding a way to slander me."

Indeed, the gmail address listed in Dinkel's request was a private address for Morales. But that's what is listed on Morales' official page on the Legislature's website. He's hardly alone in doing this. Dozens of lawmakers use personal email accounts to conduct business.

Team Susana's request probably won't get very far. Earlier this year the Legislature voted to approve a new rule that shields lawmakers' private emails from public records requests. It passed by a huge bipartisan vote, one of those issues where legislators put aside petty partisan politics and vote for the good of all New Mexicans. (For those with an irony deficiency, I was being sarcastic there.) Morales voted in favor of shielding lawmakers' emails.

I spoke with Morales last night. He said he hadn't yet actually seen the request for his records.

The state agencies that Morales asked for information regarding McCleskey aren't off the hook. I predicted in my column Sunday itprobably take a long time for the administration to produce these records.