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Transparency Scandal Intensifies Around New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

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New Mexico Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Children, Youth, and Families Department in May fired two senior employees who raised concerns over the agency’s use of Signal, an encrypted messaging app where staff communications were concealed.

The app’s use was supported by the governor’s office, whose team instructed agency employees to routinely delete their messages every 10 days or sooner, according to blockbuster reporting from the New Mexico investigative nonprofit Searchlight.

“Department leadership then set many of those communications to automatically delete, rendering them forever inaccessible to attorneys, members of the public and journalists,” the outlet reported, highlighting the systemic deletion as a potential violation of the New Mexico Public Records Act.

The type of oversight that led to this week’s release of more than 3,200 pages of emails to and from Dr. Anthony Fauci, exposing deceit and coverups related to the COVID-19 pandemic, is nonexistent for months of communications among state agency staff in New Mexico.

The governor’s office, according to official guidance made public by Searchlight, told staff that records sent in the Signal app qualified as “transitory records” and were therefore exempt from Inspection of Public Records (IPRA) requests.

“Every single text message that you send or receive likely qualifies as a ‘transitory record,’” the guidance read. “We recommend that you delete all text messages which are ‘transitory records’ every ten days. You may delete more often if you wish.”

According to an IPRA guide by New Mexico Democrat Attorney General Hector Balderas, however, no such exemption for “transitory records” exist.

Pat Rogers, a prominent New Mexico attorney and legal expert on IPRA, said the governor’s use of the phrase “transitory records” is a made-up term in the context of the state’s public records law, one of the strongest in the country in favor of transparency.

“I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Rogers told The Federalist when asked about the governor’s office’s excuse for exemption. “The biggest issue is the suggestion that their counsel has somehow okayed this or approved this. … They’re going to get sued and they’re going to lose, and the taxpayer is

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