When discussing sensitive public information, some public officials use private emails or text messages instead of their governmental computers or phones that are subject to open record laws.
The scandal over stalled bridge traffic that has snared Gov. Chris Christie happened for only one reason: Private emails from Christie's staffers that exposed it were leaked to the news media after previous searches found no incriminating information on their governmental email accounts.
That's part of a growing trend by politicians and government employees to hide their actions. They use private emails or text messages to discuss sensitive public information instead of their governmental computers or phones that are subject to open record laws.
Fortunately, that dodge won't work in states where a public official's comments on public business are essentially considered part of the public record no matter how they are transmitted.
New technologies constantly make it easier for unethical public officials to cover their tracks. State legislatures and courts have to match those trends too. The simple goal is to keep public records available to the public.
©2014 the Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont, Texas)
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