Bill Richardson’s records of final months in office to be unsealed
Records from the final months of Bill Richardson’s administration will be unsealed following an opinion from Attorney General Gary King’s office.
According to the opinion from King’s office, Richardson’s public records should be subject to requests from the Inspection of Public Records Act. Private records, however, would remain sealed.
Richardson gave his records to the State Archives and had the records, including e-mails, sealed for eight years. Local media outlets had requests to inspect the records denied because of a 1967 law. According to the office of the Attorney General, that record does not pertain to “public” records but only to “personal” materials donated to the State Archives.
“The restrictions, moratoriums and limitations permitted under Section 14-4-11 apply only to ‘personal’ files, records and documents,” Chief Deputy Attorney General Albert J. Lama wrote in the opinion. “By limiting the statutory provision’s coverage to ‘personal’ materials, we believe the legislature intended to distinguish them from ‘public’ records that are already required to be retained and preserved under the Public Records Act.”
Later in the opinion, Lama wrote, “While permitting an elected or former elected state official to restrict access to his or her personal, private records makes sense, nothing in Section 14-2-11 suggests that the legislature intended it to restrict the public’s access to public records.”
The letter was sent to State Records Director Sandra Jaramillo, lawyer Justin Miller and Director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Sarah Welch.
The full letter is [available here](http://nmag.gov/pdf/8%20Feb%202011-src-former%20gov's%20records%20(1).pdf).