A The Arizona Republic Advocate blasted Arizona Republican lawmakers as “petty and vindictive” after both state legislatures voted to opt out of the state’s “open records” policy earlier this year week
David Bodney, who represented the Phoenix-based newspaper in open cases regarding the 2020 presidential election, told the Washington Post that the recent decision affected the party’s transparency.
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“I think it’s petty, vindictive and contrary to the simple interests of transparency and government accountability in Arizona,” Bodney said.
State Senate Republicans voted to waive the open records policy and allow emails to be deleted after 90 days. Arizona House Republicans did the same, but also added additional rules that allow them to immediately delete text messages on personal phones, even if the text is business-related.
Before the vote, members of the state legislature were required to retain most of their correspondence and records indefinitely and produce copies of requested items when requested. Republicans, who lead both chambers, were able to push through the changes without the approval of Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) because the chambers adopted the adjustments through rule changes.
Government watchdogs were also unhappy with the GOP’s way of turning things around. Heather Sawyer, the executive director of American Oversight, said that if the new rules were in place during the 2020 presidential election, no one would have known much about the Maricopa County audit.
“This rule change only benefits lawmakers who want to hide the truth from the people they serve,” Sawyer told NBC News. “Had this destruction rule been in place in 2021 or 2022, the public would not have learned the whole truth about the Maricopa County partisan ‘audit’.”
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Other states have also excluded their state legislators from open records policies. Minnesota, Iowa, Oklahoma and Massachusetts have similar laws. Wisconsin has had a loophole that excludes state lawmakers from policy since 1982, NBC News reported.