And the Santa Fe Reporter’s lawsuit says the Governor’s Office broke the state’s sunshine law seven times by failing to turn over documents. And five await her decision, which isn’t expected for weeks.
Before the trial, District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled on two of those claims. I caught up with Mark Zusman, one of the people who owns the Santa Fe Reporter, in the hallway outside the courtroom.
The Public Education Department claimed certain “facts” about our public schools they could not prove, and which they used to deceive the Legislature and the public to support their seriously flawed teacher evaluation system.
New Mexico consistently flunks state report cards when it comes to the common measures of corruption — transparency, executive agency accountability, and public access to information.We talked about the paper’s discrimination claim in our first story.Here we dig into the lawsuit’s allegations of government secrecy.I waited outside the courtroom to ask lawyer Paul Kennedy how much money he’s making on the case. " "You know, I’m not authorized to comment on this matter at all, so you’ll have to contact the governor’s comms people," Kennedy said. No matter which way it goes, it’ll likely be appealed.***** When she was running for office, Susana Martinez campaigned on open government and promises of transparency.
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"I think this goes right to the heart of: How transparent does government have to be?" After questions about her administration’s use of private email accounts came to light, Gov."And so you have public business being conducted on private emails in exhibit 19. "We would instill, I guess, kind of the fear of God into employees that these have to be responded to in a timely manner," she said in court. Cason testified that it would have been impossible for her to search the email accounts of everyone in the Governor’s Office.Here’s the Santa Fe Reporter’s lawyer, Daniel Yohalem, reading the transcript in court last month: "Quote: 'That’s why I never email on my state email. It’s all done offline.' You then say: 'I never—shit—I never use my state email because it’s all done on different stuff.
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I don’t want to go [to] court and jail.' " Here’s how Gardner explained it from the stand: "I’m saying I don’t use my state system in order to do anything that’s outside the function of what I do as a member of the governor’s administration and staff. It depends upon how you define public business," Gardner said.That that’s an abuse of my system, and that’s what will get me into trouble." If Gardner didn’t do personal stuff in his official work email, what about public business in a personal email? That’s arguably the state’s second-most powerful public official stumbling over a question about the definition of public business while testifying under oath.Those messages would be covered under the state’s sunshine law, the Inspection of Public Records Act. It’s one thing to have a law that says state officials have to turn over records when they are requested.Martinez ordered her staff to use their official work accounts for public business.She’s also using taxpayer dollars to hire a private contract attorney to defend her and her staff in court. They told us to file a public records request, and we did that, too. A decision from District Court judge Sarah Singleton isn’t expected for weeks.