Lawmaker wants to make public records on personal cell phones secret
‘[P] officials use texting to try to circumvent the public records law,’ says media lawyer
By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times
A veteran state lawmaker is carving out what one lawyer calls a large and “blatant” exemption to the state’s public records law.
The proposal by Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, would spell out that any records stored on an individual’s own cell phone, computer or social media are not required to be disclosed. More to the point, HB 2256 is worded so that exemption would apply even if the public official were actually conducting official business on the device.
Thorpe’s legislation comes just weeks after the state Court of Appeals ruled that public officials cannot hide public business by using their own cell phones for texts, emails and social messages.
“It just shows what everybody always thought,” attorney Dan Barr of the First Amendment Coalition told Capitol Media Services. “We all knew how public officials use texting to try to circumvent the public records law.”