A request by the Checks and Balances Project in Washington, D.C., for records of an Arizona Corporation Commission member’s text messages has created another controversy over the cost of complying with public records requests.

The voluminous requests for text message records of Commissioner Bob Stump prompted Commissioner Bob Burns to attempt to scale-back Arizona’s public records law, and perhaps implement new fees to cover the costs of producing those records.

“The issue has come up and been shot down in the past, precisely because it would undermine the public records law completely,” said David Bodney, a media attorney with Ballard Spahr. He commented that taxpayers already are paying the record-holders’ salary and public records already belong to the public, so there should be no charge for the time needed to comply with a public records request.

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