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News site seeks AG scrutiny of spaceport secrecy

LAS CRUCES – The political website NMPolitics.net has asked the office of New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to look into allegations of open meetings and open records violations encountered during its recent investigation of Spaceport America.

NMPolitics.net charges that the state agency that runs the spaceport violated transparency laws several times this year in response to requests for documents.

Heath Haussamen, NMPolitics.net’s editor and publisher, filed five complaints with the AG on Monday alleging violations and possible violations of the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act. In some cases Haussamen is asking the AG to formally declare that the New Mexico Spaceport Authority violated transparency laws in its interactions with him. In others he’s seeking legal clarification about what the law intends.

The allegations include failure to release public documents, redacting information in documents released, blocking Haussamen on Twitter and failing to release minutes in a timely manner.

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“My investigation found evidence that Spaceport America may finally be on the verge of realizing some of the dreams New Mexicans had a decade ago when they decided to build the facility,” Haussamen said. “But this level of secrecy is unacceptable. To earn New Mexicans’ trust, the spaceport must become more transparent. I hope the AG helps make that happen.”

Haussamen’s complaints are the second batch against the spaceport in recent months. Balderas’ office determined in August that the Spaceport Authority had violated IPRA four times in its interactions with KTSM-TV reporter Patrick Hayes — by improperly attempting to charge fees for public records, failing to provide records in electronic format, prohibiting the use of digitizing equipment and denying a request without explanation.

The Spaceport Authority responded that it had not violated IPRA and said the determination from the AG’s office contained “legal inaccuracies.” AG spokesman James Hallinan said his office “absolutely” stands by its findings in Hayes’ case.

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