Arizona Officials Have 'Duty' To Report Government Business Conducted Via Personal Texts, Social Media

Published: Monday, July 10, 2017 - 2:13pm
Updated: Monday, July 10, 2017 - 2:16pm

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has concluded public officials cannot bypass full disclosure laws by using texts or social media to communicate official business.  But, he’s left an out for politicians who try.

In a formal legal opinion issued Friday, Brnovich wrote it is the “duty” of public officials to record government business for preservation, whether it is on their personal phone or through social media sites.

But, he also said, if the electronic message is solely on a privately owned device or through a social media account, not established as a system for conducting government business, then the message is not a public record.

"That leaves an open door for mischief,” warned First Amendment Coalition attorney Dan Barr, “for somebody who doesn't want to turn over records in the first place, will seize upon the language towards the end of the opinion and say, 'Aha, here's a reason I can withhold this. And the attorney general says so!'''

Brnovich said he’s not inviting elected officials or government employees to conduct business outside of public scrutiny. Rather, he described a self-policing policy.

He explained that requiring all communication on electronic devices be monitored imposes an impossible responsibility on government agencies.

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