In Arizona, the GOP-controlled Legislature passed a measure this week shielding lawmakers from the state's public records law, which requires "all officers and public bodies" keep their records and correspondence indefinitely and allows members of the public to obtain those documents.
Under these new rules, all emails sent or received by lawmakers and their staffers will be destroyed after 90 days. Additionally, in the state House, lawmakers and their staffers will be able to immediately delete texts sent and received, calendars, and "communications on online platforms." These changes make "investigations into any potential wrongdoing far more difficult," NBC News says, noting that newspapers and other organizations have used the state's records law to request documents related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
This "only benefits lawmakers who want to hide the truth from the people they serve," Heather Sawyer, executive director at American Oversight, told NBC News. "If this destruction rule had been in place in 2021 or 2022, the public would not have learned the whole truth about the partisan 'audit' of Maricopa County."
Arizona House Minority Leader Andres Cano (D) said on Tuesday that "saying the law doesn't apply to us is a terrible message to send to the public. Arizonans want a government that's open and transparent. This is not it. Sadly, these rule changes are a continued pattern of disrespect, obstruction, and dysfunction we have experienced since we gaveled in." Republicans have argued that this will help protect lawmakers' privacy.