Open government advocates welcome court ruling

July 31, 2012 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Citizens have a right to access public records kept by an independent contractor on behalf of state or local governments in New Mexico, the state Court of Appeals ruled in a decision welcomed by open government advocates.

The court’s ruling is important for preserving government transparency, particularly in an era when governments are privatizing many public services, Dolph Barnhouse, a lawyer for the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government said Monday.

At issue in the case was the reach of one of New Mexico’s main governmental sunshine laws, the Inspection of Public Records Act.

“It basically says that cities can’t avoid IPRA by just contracting out everything they do as a city government,” Barnhouse said of the ruling.

The court issued the decision last week in a case involving the city of Truth or Consequences and a nonprofit corporation that operated a public access cable channel for the community.

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