It is easy to find gaps in government transparency and accountability in Arizona during recent years.

State Integrity Investigation, a data-driven assessment of government accountability and transparency in all 50 states by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, recently scored Arizona at 64 – a D grade – which ranked it 22nd among all the states. It is an improvement over a similar study three years ago, but a direct comparison isn’t possible due to changes in the project and methodology.

While the latest report shows strength in a few categories when compared to other states, Arizona still earned an F in six of 13 categories including lobbying oversight, pension management, ethics enforcement, executive accountability, civil service protections, and access to information.

Recent records requests have led to confusion on how government agencies should handle text and third-party messaging and which records fit into one of several exemptions.

David J. Bodney, a First Amendment attorney with the Phoenix-based law firm Ballard Spahr, said the key question is about the purpose of the record. "If the record involved public business or the transactions of public business, there is a strong presumption that the record is public,” Bodney said. “It’s up to the agency to demonstrate that it fits into one of the exemptions.”