FOI AND STATE E-MAIL RECORDS—RELL AND MOODY’S NIGHTMARE

UPDATE: Malloy: Hands off those e-mails!

The Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender, in his weekly Capitol Watch column, detailed the problem of what the state will do with some 161million state government e-mails currently stored on computer tapes in the Department of Information Technology. Lender notes that because e-mail is a relatively new form of communication, there is no set or traditional way to deal with them such as how long they should be kept.

The question is an important one because the administration of Gov. Rell comes to a close next month as Gov.-elect Dan Malloy takes over. State government e-mails have been a treasure trove for reporters such as Lender and The Day of New London’s Ted Mann who have used the state freedom of information laws (FOI) to obtain them.

While e-mails and the FOI laws have been great for reporters to get inside information for stories, they have been problematic for Rell and her bully-in-chief Lisa Moody. The self-proclaimed “Ethics Governor” got caught a number of times acting not-so-ethically when e-mails were laid bare. In one memorable case, Mann wrote a series of stories about how University of Connecticut pollster Ken Dautrich did work for the governor’s political efforts, even using students.

Moody, who at times seemed like a walking ethics violation, has a reputation for withholding e-mails even in the face of FOI requests. (This is the same top Rell official who once testified under oath that she did not read a memo about administration ethics guidelines. The actual memo then surfaced with her edits on it.)

Unless keeping the backup computer tapes are shown to be a great expense (Lender points out that there isn’t a clear answer to that yet), they should be retained. If nothing else, they would provide rare insight into an administration into which insight is often eye-opening.