Bob Burns, an Arizona utility regulator, has proposed that state lawmakers modify the state’s Public Records Law. His interest in exploring a possible “gatekeeper” who would have the power to approve and deny requests is prompted by a request from the Checks and Balances Project to obtain and review text messages of fellow commissioner Bob Stump prior to the 2014 Republican primary.

According to Burns, the commission has been inundated with requests for emails, phone records, calendars, and other documents from as far back as 2007—and taxpayers are paying for the staff time to comply and produce the documents.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich dismissed Burns’ suggestion that the gatekeeper process for access to public records be modeled after search warrants because the object of the search, in this case, is the government, not a private party.

Media attorney David Bodney also disapproved of the idea.

“Another layer of administrative delay and expense in the process would not advance the law’s purpose,” he said. “One cost of doing business in a democracy is the cost of records custodians making those documents available as promptly as possible.”

Related Practice

Media and Entertainment Law