Arizona's GOP Lawmakers Vote to Shield Themselves From Public Records Laws

The new rules adopted by both GOP-led chambers of the state Legislature effectively make investigations into any potential wrongdoing far more difficult.

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Arizona’s Republican-controlled Legislature approved a measure this week exempting itself from the state’s public records law and authorizing the destruction of all emails sent or received by lawmakers and their staff after 90 days.

The new rules adopted by both GOP-led chambers effectively shield members and their staff from public records requests, making investigations into any potential wrongdoing far more difficult.

The exemptions from public records laws and the ability to destroy emails after 90 days apply to both chambers. The state House, however, also adopted new rules allowing its members and their staff to immediately delete all texts sent and received, as well as calendars and “communications on online platforms.” The new Senate rules shields texts related to official government business from public records laws if they have been sent or received on nongovernment devices.

The state’s public records law requires that “all officers and public bodies” officials retain records and correspondences “reasonably necessary or appropriate to maintain an accurate knowledge of their official activities and of any of their activities that are supported by monies from this state” indefinitely and to comply, with some exceptions, with public records requests promptly after they are submitted.

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