Rio Grande Foundation Files Suit Against Bernalillo County Over Denied IPRA Request

(Albuquerque, NM) – The Rio Grande Foundation has filed a lawsuit in New Mexico District Court under New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) alleging that the County has failed to provide records relating to the County’s proposed “Mandatory Paid Leave” ordinance.

Said Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing, “We requested all communications with the County regarding the (originally proposed) sick leave ordinance. The request was drafted with sufficient specificity that this should not have been an issue. However, the County’s response was incomplete: many documents that we knew existed were missing.”

In addition, text messages that were requested were not provided at all. This portion of the request was closed without any proper response. Under IPRA, this is an “improper denial.”

The Foundation received only 10 emails in the response from the County relating to its request when in reality, both pro and con forces have ramped up email and pressure campaigns in support of and against the proposed ordinance. And, of course there are likely dozens or even hundreds of emails between County Commissioners and their staffs relating to the proposed ordinance.

After receiving this initial, partial response from the County Foundation staff notified the County that the request was not complete, which resulted in the County declaring the request “overly broad” and/or “burdensome.” In their emails the County has demonstrated their capacity of doing searches of emails, so we know that this request could have been easily fulfilled. The original request was filed in June. They have had plenty of time.

Concluded Gessing, “New Mexico’s IPRA law is designed to give the public and media organizations timely access to information regarding public policy decisions and debates happening at all levels of New Mexico government. Bernalillo County is NOT exempt from New Mexico law and their attempts to stonewall us in our efforts to access basic information about an important policy issue are ridiculous and unnecessary.”