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Public record dispute intensifies

SANTA FE – A legal fight between a lawyer for former New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera and the state Attorney General’s Office over an unfilled public records request is escalating.

Herrera attorney A. Blair Dunn says the AG’s Office is “just playing games” by contending that it never received Dunn’s request for emails between the AG’s staff and two people Herrera fired in 2010 while she was secretary of state. He said Monday that the AG’s Office may be ignoring this and other records requests he’s made because of political and personal differences. Dunn is a Republican and the son of State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. Attorney General Hector Balderas is a Democrat.

James Hallinan, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said last week that Dunn mistyped the email address for requesting public records, by adding apostrophes to the address. The office’s IT director has signed an affidavit that Dunn’s request for documents under the state Inspection of Public Records Act, or IPRA, was never received.

“Mr. Dunn’s claims are not only false, but reckless and unfounded,” Hallinan said Monday. “Now that we have received Mr. Dunn’s request for documents, we are handling his request through our routine IPRA process.”

Last week, Dunn filed a court complaint for Herrera alleging that the AG’s Office – which is responsible for enforcing public records laws – had violated IPRA by missing a deadline for responding to his IPRA request.

Dunn wants any emails or other communications that employees of the AG’s Office had from 2009 to 2012 with Manny Vildasol and James Flores, who worked in the Secretary of State’s Office under Herrera and were fired in 2010. Both have pending whistleblower lawsuits alleging they were fired because they provided information to law enforcement agencies about Herrera. Former Attorney General Gary King investigated allegations that she had required her employees to collect signatures for her re-election campaign and insisted that they solicit “scholarships or donations” from businesses that contracted with the state. King never charged Herrera.

Dunn on Monday provided computer screen captures that he said will “demonstrably prove” that his emails were properly addressed. He said the apostrophes at issue were just a computer function that didn’t actually change what was otherwise a correct email address. Hallinan said just showing such a screen doesn’t mean the emails actually went through.

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