A new scorecard released by The Center for Public Integrity today gave New Mexico an overall ‘D-‘ for transparency and accountability in state government. Most troubling, our state received an ‘F’ for Public Access to Information. The study illustrates the need for better enforcement of our transparency laws.
Gwyneth Doland of New Mexico In Depth writes that citizens and journalists face difficult challenges when seeking government records: “New Mexico is often recognized for having some of the best freedom of information laws in the country. But its flaws leave the public and the media acting as watchdogs with not enough teeth to frighten a kitten.” FOG is frequently the only resource for citizens and reporters who need help obtaining records.
Trip Jennings of New Mexico In Depth writes in another article: “In New Mexico, lawmakers passed a resolution in 2013 declaring that their emails are exempt from public records laws — a rule change that did not require the governor’s signature. ‘I think it’s up to me to decide if you can have my record,’ one representative said. These are among the practices illuminated by the State Integrity Investigation, which measured hundreds of variables to compile transparency and accountability grades for all 50 states. The results are nothing short of stunning.”
While these findings are incredibly troubling, we as citizens can take steps to defend our democracy, and FOG is at the forefront of this ongoing battle, working to strengthen our Sunshine Laws and hold officials accountable. Follow @NMFOG on twitter and Facebook to stay informed and get involved in our work. If you are not a member of FOG, consider joining our organization to defend your right to know.