SANTA FE – The Associated Press filed lawsuits Thursday against Gov. Susana Martinez and administration agencies for refusing to release records about her work and travel schedules, cellphone calls and expenses of the security officers who travel with the governor.
The lawsuits alleging violations of the Inspection of Public Records Act are the latest by media and watchdog groups against Martinez, who has promoted herself as a strong advocate of a transparent government.
The AP’s lawsuits were brought in state District Court in Santa Fe against the governor, the Department of Finance and Administration and the Department of Public Safety, which provides the State Police officers who serve as the governor’s security detail.
“Hiding public records from view prevents the public from determining government officials are serving in an honest, ethical fashion, and whether they use their taxpayer-funded position for the public good or for their own personal benefit,” said Rosario D. Vega Lynn, an Albuquerque lawyer for the AP.
The AP sought records on Martinez’s travel, schedule and expenses as she took a higher profile on the national political stage in the past two years, including several out-of-state trips and a speaking spot at the Republican National Convention.
Martinez’s office issued a statement in which the administration stood by its record on open government and its decision to withhold the information in question.
“The Martinez administration is the most transparent in state history, and demanding information such as personal and campaign calendars that has nothing to do with state business, along with itemized security agent information that the State Police chief has stated would compromise the governor’s safety, is over the top and well outside the bounds of the law,” said Enrique Knell, a spokesman for Martinez.
One lawsuit contends that agencies violated the law by not providing actual expense reports and receipts filed by security officers along with time sheets and other documents indicating when or why officers filed for overtime in months leading up to the 2012 presidential election.
The administration released only aggregate tallies of expenses and overtime, saying release of detailed documents could create a security risk for the governor.
The other lawsuit said the Governor’s Office violated the public records law by refusing to release actual copies of her work calendars, including travel for political purposes and on personal matters, and improperly redacting numbers from logs of cellphone calls by the governor and her staff.
The administration again cited security risks as the reason for withholding some requested phone records, saying disclosure would reveal phone numbers for the governor, her husband, family members and State Police security officers.
In response to the request for her work calendars in 2012, the Governor’s Office initially released a list of her speaking engagements and other public appearances.
The AP objected and the Governor’s Office said other “notes or materials regarding preliminary or tentative appointments or meetings are not public records.”