WASHINGTON – A local watchdog group is suing the D.C. Council over access to private emails.
The D.C. Open Government Coalition is filing suit in D.C. Superior Court Tuesday. It is seeking copies of emails from elected officials sent from personal accounts.
The group is going to court after a Freedom of Information Act request was denied earlier this year. The group had requested copies of emails sent from council members’ private accounts to government officials that dealt with District business.
The request was denied, according to Tom Susman, founding president of the D.C. Open Government Coalition.
“We’re seeking the emails to establish the principle that when a council member does the public’s business, that document becomes public record,” he says.
Susman says he has no reason to believe that any council member has done anything wrong, but he wants to set a precedent.
Earlier this year, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a mayoral order discouraging District employees from using personal email accounts for city business after the District’s CFO Natwar Gandhi admitted to using a private account for official purposes.
D.C. Councilman Jim Graham says he routinely used a personal email account to conduct city business because of “convenience.”
The mayoral order did not cover council members or their staff.