Stenehjem issues new ruling

Emails sent from a private account by a public employee are open record if the account is used to conduct or discuss public business, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a ruling issued Friday.

The ruling was issued in response to a request for an opinion from Rob Port, who writes the Say Anything Blog.

Port had requested the last 30 days of emails from the north.dakota.schools@gmail.com address, a private account set up by Dale Wetzel, State Department of Public Instruction Information Communications and Research/Public Information Specialist. Wetzel turned over three emails on May 9, with assurances that the three emails were the only emails sent to or from the account in the last 30 days. However, Port was forwarded six additional emails on May 12 documenting an email exchange between WDAY talk radio host Jay Thomas and the northdakota.schools@gmail.com account that Port had not received copies of. Wetzel explained that he thought Port had access to the additional emails because he thought Port had access to them as a guest host on the WDAY talk radio show.

Stenehjem ruled Friday that Port requested the emails as an individual and was entitled to separate copies of all of the requested emails.

Andrea Johnson