Great moments in politics: Miller & Nixon
Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller continues to deny having used personal email accounts to conduct government business, although copies of emails proving otherwise have been turned over to the Pima County Attorney's Office.
Although she claims to have no public records in her personal email account to release after numerous requests have been made, those documents show that Miller may have broken the law in ordering staff to use personal email "to be more secretive."
Like Nixon after Watergate, Miller has not just made false statements, she's spun bizarre legal theories in an attempt to excuse herself.
Monday night, a late-to-the-party local TV news spot dutifully parroted Miller's contention that her emails aren't being made available to the public because they don't include county business.
"The conduct of county business requires the engagement of at least 2 other supervisors which is the requirement for a quorum," Miller told the station. "A quorum of an elected body is necessary to conduct county business. Anything discussed outside of a quorum of the board of supervisors is not conducting county business."
Of course, that's utter nonsense — and it went unchallenged by the station's "investigative" reporter.
Here's how the Arizona Ombudsman's Office explains what a public record is:
Arizona law requires all officers and public bodies to maintain records reasonably necessary to provide an accurate accounting of their official activities and of any government funded activities.
Records are defined as books, papers, maps, photographs, or other documentary materials regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an governmental agency in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved by the agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of government. Examples of public records and other matters include calendars, reports, legal memoranda, policies and procedures, accident reports, training videos and materials, tape recordings of meetings where there are no written minutes, personnel records, case files, and data bases.
Courts have found that, under state law, any government business conducted while using a personal email, text message or other means of communication is a public record and must be released.
Nice try, Ally.
Roberto De Vido is a communications consultant, writer, cartoonist and jack of many trades. The former chief of Tucson Sentinel’s East Asia Bureau, he now lives in California (make of that what you will).