Phoenix – The Arizona State Legislature just approved new rules that allow lawmakers to destroy emails after 90 days and delete text messages and social media messages as quickly as they receive them.
Under the new rules, emails in a House or Senate member’s legislative account will be destroyed 90 days after they are sent or received. Calendars, text messages, and “communications on online platforms” can also be destroyed after the “reference value has been served.” Under these new rules, lawmakers would be able to destroy all records and communications anytime they decide they are no longer needed, with no oversight.
Statement of Jenny Guzman, program director for Common Cause Arizona:
“Transparent government is good government, and Arizonans have a right to access public documents, including our elected leaders’ communications. Without access to such public records, including conversations with special interests, there’s no way to know if our leaders are acting in our interest.
Without transparency measures and oversight in place, lawmakers can freely engage in virtual backroom deal-making that diminishes trust in our leaders. Shielding their work from public view sends a terrible message to the people who elected them in the first place.
The need for transparency doesn’t magically end after 90 days. Lawmakers owe their constituents honesty in their work and should not gatekeep access to it. Without accountability through transparency, Arizonans would lose important checks and balances that make our democracy work for everyone.
Common Cause Arizona is calling on leadership to repeal these rules.”