Arizona has a long history of open government. Now the Senate is sidestepping public records law

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, February 2, 2023 - 1:59pm

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David Bodney
Ballard Spahr LLP
David Bodney

New rules adopted by Republicans in the Arizona Senate mean that lawmakers are now exempt from the state’s public records law.

Their text messages will be exempt as well from here on and emails will be destroyed after 90 days. 

It comes after thousands of records were released exposing the many efforts made by lawmakers and others in their orbit to overturn the 2020 election and overturn Joe Biden’s win in Arizona. That included documents that revealed the behind-the-scenes machinations of the partisan election review completed by Cyber Ninjas, as well as emails from Virgina “Ginni” Thomas — the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — pushing Arizona lawmakers to throw out Biden’s delegates to the Electoral College. 

Senate Republican spokesperson Kim Quintero told The Show the rule changes are the same as those used by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the courts and that "They strike the appropriate balance between public access and administrative feasibility."

Senate Republicans made the move after the Arizona Supreme Court opened the door for it, ruling that it had no power to enforce the state’s open-meetings law for legislators. 

David Bodney says it goes against Arizona’s long history of open government. Bodney is senior counsel with Ballard Spahr and has been in court trying to get these records released to the media. The Show spoke with him about his reaction to Senate Republicans’ move.

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