Monday, June 18, 2012

Governor Tells State Employees to Use State Email

After a week of criticism following the disclosure that Gov. Susana Martinez and top officials in her administration used personal emails to conduct state business, Martinez this afternoon said all state employees in agencies under her authority should use official state email for state business.

Here's the entire news release:

Today, Governor Susana Martinez issued the following statement and directive, following a recent productive meeting with the Foundation for Open Government, regarding the use of official emails throughout state government: 

"Today, I am directing all state employees under the governor's authority to utilize official state email when conducting state business via email.  This includes discussions preliminary in nature to final decisions or actions that have occasionally been sent via personal email because they are not required to be maintained under state law. There is no state law that requires this to be done, but utilizing only state email to conduct state business in connection with public employees' duties is another important step to ensure continued confidence in government." 

"This directive goes beyond what has been required or practiced in the past in New Mexico, and it exceeds what is practiced in most other states. In addition, given that numerous other public officials, including legislators, discuss public matters on personal email addresses, I am urging the Legislature, other executive branch agencies, and local governments and municipalities to also adopt a similar policy that requires official email to be used when conducting state business and retained according to state regulations. Furthermore, we would be pleased to work with interested parties to ensure that our records statutes and regulations are coherent, strong, practical, and consistent across government."

Martinez met with the board of New Mexico Foundation for Open Government on Saturday.

Last week, in response to my questions about a several emails showing the administration was using personal email accounts to communicate about routine business, spokesman Scott Darnell said, "the types of communications in personal email accounts fall into categories that are not required to be maintained -- preliminary in nature, do not reflect final action, etc. Final agency action is conducted through official state email or other correspondence and maintained."

UPDATE: 11:45 p.m. Several hours before Gov. Martinez issued her news release about her new email policy, I obtained a sworn affidavit from Martinez's former Corrections Secretary, Lupe Martinez.

The document describes a cabinet meeting last year in which the governor's chief of staff Keith Gardner told those present "to, whenever possible, use our private emails when communicating, because by doing such would prevent them from being discovered through public records requests."

Martinez's spokesman Scott Darnell responded,"Her statement is simply false, and she knows it."

Read my story HERE