The New Mexico attorney general says the Department of Public Safety must release records of work schedules for two State Police officers assigned to accompany Gov. Susana Martinez’s husband on what was described as a September 2011 hunting trip to Louisiana.
Attorney General Gary King’s office, in a letter last week, directed DPS to release the requested documents after reviewing a complaint in June from Independent Source PAC Director Michael Corwin. Corwin, a critic of the governor, alleged that DPS wrongly denied his Inspection of Public Records Act request.
A DPS records custodian denied Corwin’s request for the security detail officers’ time cards and any vacation requests from the time of the Louisiana trip by first gentleman Chuck Franco and the two officers, saying protection of “the governor and her family’s security interests” is a “countervailing public policy” that allows the officers’ work records to be withheld.
But the Attorney General’s Office said “countervailing public policy” is no longer a legal reason to withhold public records, citing a state Supreme Court decision in June that rejected that reasoning under IPRA.
“There was a major change in open government law this summer, and so while this exemption may have been allowed in the spring, that’s no longer the case,” said Gwyneth Doland, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.
Because there is no specific exemption restricting release of records related to the governor’s security detail, records related to those officers’ work must now be made public, Doland said.
DPS spokesman Tony Lynn said Thursday that the disputed records will be released.
Corwin’s public records request was initially filed in April, after news reports that two State Police officers traveled with the governor’s husband as a security detail for an out-of-state hunting trip in September 2011. While Franco paid his own trip expenses, the officers’ travel costs, including expenses related to the car the three drove, were taxpayer-funded.
The Governor’s Office has said it is standard practice for a state-funded security detail to accompany the governor or her family on out-of-state travel for both state business and personal matters. ATTORNEY GENERAL:
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal