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Tue July 26, 2011
NM ACLU Files Lawsuit Over Redacted Information
By Carrie Jung
Albuquerque, NM – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is suing Secretary of State Diana Duran. The ACLU believes she violated the state Information and Public Records Act by concealing documents that are usually considered public information.
Last March, the ACLU requested voting records to verify Duran's allegations that undocumented immigrants had voted in New Mexico elections. Copies of the records were heavily redacted by Duran's office before they were turned over to the ACLU. Duran cited executive privilege.
Laura Schauer Ives is the managing staff attorney at the New Mexico ACLU. She says in this instance, executive privilege should not apply and that "it is an extreme case whereby we are forced to file a lawsuit to get what are and should be publicly available documents."
Diana Duran's office disagrees. Ken Ortiz is the public information officer for the New Mexico Secretary of State. He says Executive privilege was cited because the requested documents are still being examined, and policy decisions will be made based on that review because "executive privilege was cited as recommended to us by the attorney general."
According to the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, executive privilege should only cover very high level policy advice from state leaders. Right now, the lawsuit is in the second judicial district court.