Thursday, October 1, 2015

Update on Stumpgate: AZ Senate Republicans' stance on cell phone records highlights larger issue of accountability

Here are snippets from a GV News editorial reprinted from the Sierra Vista Herald.

The Arizona Capitol Times filed a public records request in July asking for all text messages, group messages and third-party app messages involving leaders and head staffers in both the Arizona House and Senate, in both the majority and minority caucuses.

However, and uniquely in the AZ lege, Senate Republicans balked.

Senate Republicans, and the ACC in its handling of Stump’s cell phone records, are obfuscating the intent of the public records law, which is aimed at making government officials accountable for what they say, do and decide regarding the public’s business. Bordering on absurdity, GOP senators are arguing their messages were transmitted on privately-owned cell phones, making them outside the province of the law. The ACC initially argued Stump’s messages had been destroyed — which turned out not to be true — and have subsequently failed to report that the chairman had multiple electronic devices which may have been used to transmit messages.

When government officials conduct the public’s business — your business — then regardless of the technology used and who owns it, the public has a right to know what is being said and decided.

Without strong enforcement and a relentless effort to adhere to the law, government officials will erode their responsibility to maintain public records and will enjoy avoiding all accountability for what they do, say and legislate.

I know of a gaggle of GOPlins who would be perfectly happy with such avoidance. Budgets in the dead of night, anyone?

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