A lawsuit filed against Destin alleges that city officials violated the state’s public record law by failing to produce requested text messages. An attorney representing a local business stated in their early October court filing that on May 30 their client had requested multiple public records from the city of Destin including text messages. So far this request has not been fulfilled.
Read more: https://www.thedestinlog.com/news/20191031/destin-sued-over-public-records
Metro Council President texted about government business on her personal phone. Her cell phone was set to automatically delete messages after 30 days, so these messages were deleted and she failed to retain records of them. Read more: https://www.wweek.com/news/state/2019/10/30/metro-council-president-lynn-peterson-texted-about-public-business-from-her-private-phone-and-deleted-the-texts/
A new report from the state Freedom of Information Coalition shows that the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) offer government officials broad discretion over when to keep or delete the recorded history of public business including emails and text messages. In addition, many Colorado officials are currently utilizing apps like Confide and Signal, which offer users a function that deletes messages once they’ve been read so no records are retained.
Read more: https://www.denverpost.com/2019/10/26/colorado-open-records-confide-signal/
Text messages from a planning board member to candidate for Arkansas House District 53 Republican primary, appear to promise a $20,000 scholarship for candidate's daughter if he drops out of the race and endorses opponent. Both parties later claim it was a joke.
Read more: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/oct/25/texts-raise-cloud-in-house-seat-race-20/
A recent report done by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition provides recommendations for addressing the state's inadequate records retention practices for electronic messages. Read the article here: https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2019/oct/24/colorado-cfoic-retention-report/
Takeaways From Ohio News Media Association Webinar on Challenges Faced by Journalists When Seeking Public Records
A Cincinnati law firm hosted a webinar addressing difficulties with response to records request, read about the takeaways: https://www.thenews-messenger.com/story/news/local/2019/10/23/ohio-public-records-laws-delay-denial-attorney-says/4069564002/
Fired Administrator Asks Court to Assess Fines Against Council Member for Violating Iowa's Open Meetings Laws and More
Ex-Windsor Heights, Iowa administrator contends a councilwoman created a hostile work environmentand that the city council made efforts to bypass Iowa's open meetings laws. Read more: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/windsor-heights/2019/10/21/windsor-heights-ex-administrator-files-wrongful-termination-lawsuit/4053400002/
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's staff and aides have admitted to using the message service WhatsApp to conduct business. This is concerning because the app destroys messages after a specific amount of time and the messages cannot be preserved. Read more: https://dcist.com/story/19/10/09/staff-for-mayor-muriel-bowser-use-whatsapp-raising-concerns-about-open-records/
A survey done by Maryland's public access ombudsman showed several cabinet-level agencies lacked policies for retaining certain kinds of records that are covered by the Maryland Public Information Act, such as emails and text messages.
Read more: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/investigations/bs-md-pol-public-information-study-20191008-c64yd5t3e5eafk2leol34ehgq4-story.html
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ use of the self-destructing text message app Confide, has cost the governor’s office $340,000 so far on private attorneys. Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article235795407.html
Ann Arbor, MI resident requested records of city council members communication with resident Pat Lesko since the beginning of the year, including emails, texts and direct messages over social media. A judge ruled that these messages are part of the public record and need to be provided. Read more: https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2019/09/residents-emails-to-ann-arbor-city-officials-are-public-record-judge-rules.html
Documents show that South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and his staff were in frequent contact with board members to hire Robert Caslen to be the next president of the University of South Carolina. Read more: https://www.thestate.com/news/local/education/article235181197.html
Government offices in Texas are working to figure out how a new Public Record Law applies to them. The new law makes any related text messages subject to public scrutiny. The law applies to messages sent on work or personal devices. Read more: https://www.wacotrib.com/news/government/new-law-adds-requirements-for-text-messages-about-government-business/article_1685f576-a1a6-5ea9-b0a5-db76599e7abc.html
Former Gov. Eric Greitens’ spent taxpayer money to defend himself in a lawsuit alleging he and his staff used the self-destructing Confide app to to subvert Missouri’s open records laws. Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article234952897.html
As of September 1, 2019, the new law requires any public official who texts about public business now save the text messages for at least two years. The law applies to almost anyone who receives a public paycheck. The law does not differentiate between publicly issued or private devices if the person is texting about public business. Read more: https://krld.radio.com/articles/news/texas-open-records-act-takes-effect-september-1st
Text message obtained in a public-records request under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act shows campaign contributions to the Arkansas State Auditor from a Texarkana attorney, his law firm, law partner and his daughter. Read more: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/aug/19/lea-s-ties-to-law-firms-noted-in-retire/
Despite a judge's ruling that state law requires public records be kept for two years, the officials in Orange County have requested the approval to immediately delete text messages about government business...Read more: https://voiceofoc.org/2019/08/county-asks-court-to-let-it-keep-deleting-texts-about-government-business/
Oakland County Commissioner admitted to sending a text to her commission colleagues that said “Delete! Delete! Delete! Now.”
The County Commissioner in Oakland sent a text message to other commissioners instructing them to delete their texts evidently to cover up messages they sent while working on backroom deals to choose a successor to fill the empty county executive seat. Read more: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/oakland/2019/08/12/l-brooks-patterson-commissioner-texting-foia-oakland-county/1993725001/
The mayor and the Fire Department chief texted back and forth over what the fire had done in a gated Ventura County neighborhood. The chief asked if the mayor wanted any specific home checked, and the mayor provided an address. Read more: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-09/woolsey-fire-mayor-garcetti-texts
Cedar City, UT City Council messaged about a city issue in a group text, then acknowledges it was technically a violation of the state’s Open and Public Meetings Act and reads the messages to make them officially part of the public record.
Read more: https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2019/08/01/jmr-redmen-to-stay-on-cedar-citys-water-tank-council-members-come-clean-about-group-texts/#.XU1tNSNKiUl
Reporter Mark Greenburg sites data showing "that SUSD Governing Board members Barbara Perleberg, Sandy Kravetz, Pam Kirby and Kim Hartmann exchanged more than 1,890 sequential text messages and phone calls from 4/11/18 through 12/31/18, conducting board meetings via text and telephone, away from the prying eyes of voters, and exchanged text messages with each other during 2018 Governing Board meetings." The text messaging continued into 2019.
Read more: https://www.scottsdaleindependent.com/opinions/greenburg-my-scottsdale-school-board-investigation-findings/
Current Scottsdale school board member, Jann-Michael Greenburg, has asked the Arizona Attorney General's office to investigate whether the former board violated Arizona's Open Meeting Law. Read more: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale-education/2019/07/18/arizona-attorney-general-office-investigates-scottsdale-school-board-over-private-meetings/1740476001/
Council Members from Lafayette City-Parish in Louisiana 'skirted,' 'disregarded' Open Meetings law according to AG
According to an assistant state attorney general multiple Council members violated Louisiana's open meetings law by discussing how to get the votes needed to adopt a change in the local government charter over text messages.
Read more: https://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/local/2019/07/19/lafayette-council-members-accused-violating-open-meetings-laws/1778700001/
Read about the importance of preserving information on mobile devices in the recent Illinois State Bar Association article, "Lost Text Messages Lead to Sanctions" by George Bellas.
Former Atlanta Mayor's Press Secretary Facing criminal Charges for Alleged Failure to Comply with Georgia’s Open Records
Jenna Garland is facing criminal charges for alleged failure to comply with Georgia’s open records law. She faces two misdemeanor charges, but they represent the first time in Georgia history that any public official has been criminally charged under the state’s open records law. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/08/us/georgia-open-records-jenna-garland.html