Republicans concerned about the destruction of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s records have introduced legislation requiring emails and paper records to be kept longer.
S.7334 was presented to the State Senate on Wednesday by Senator Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, with five Republican co-sponsors. The document retention standards established by the bill would require executive departments, agencies, bureaus and committees, as well as the Executive Chamber itself, to retain all written and electronic documents, including emails, as well as electronic metadata. These documents must be retained for two years under this legislation, unless the documents are intended to be part of a dispute, in which case they must be retained for five years or two years after the dispute is no longer. reasonably expected, whichever is later.
State law allows the governor’s office to decide what documents to keep or throw away. This is very different from the law governing the President of the United States, where the Presidential Records Act considers all presidential and vice-presidential records to belong to the public. According to a recent Spectrum News NY1 report, Cuomo’s office circumvented email record retention by using a Blackberry PIN-to-PIN messaging system with key helpers.
In 2015, Cuomo ended a state policy to automatically delete emails from state employees 90 days after state policy was criticized by lawmakers and open government groups. . A meeting hosted by Cuomo to discuss the matter brought together three members of Cuomo’s staff, representatives from the Attorney General’s and State Comptroller’s offices, and Assembly Member Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown. Goodell, according to the New York Times, described the meeting as “A press conference as a summit, aimed at criticizing the legislator. “ According to the 2015 New York Times report, Assembly Member Daniel J. O’Donnell, D-Manhattan, sponsored legislation requiring emails to be retained for at least seven years and said the policy State’s automatic deletion should have been stopped when the review was first reframed. in place this winter. He blamed Cuomo for creating the policy and not putting it on hold when the problem arose.
“Instead, he dug in and said, ‘No I’m right, I’m always right, of course I’m right, I’m the governor'” O’Donnell told the New York Times.“And no one agreed with him.”
Earlier this year, the state attorney general’s office sent Cuomo a notice to keep any records or files that may be relevant to the investigation of the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo.
“Governor goes out of favor after his decade-long abuse of power is finally exposed”, Jordan said in a press release. “He gave himself two weeks before leaving office. Have his office shredders been running all this time? Are the computers cleaned? “ said Senator Jordan. “I am introducing legislation to prevent any future governor from destroying or ‘misplacing’ potentially incriminating documents as I have no doubt that Cuomo’s lieutenants have already done. My bill will ensure that every record, whether paper or electronic and including e-mails, of a governor’s administration is kept for two years. This legislation also ensures, if the wrongdoing of a future governor is brought to court, that all existing evidence will be available to the court for justice to be done. “
The bill has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee, but will not be implemented until at least January, unless the state legislature returns to Albany for a special legislative session.
“By making these changes to the way the executive keeps its records, the state can ensure transparency – in the sense of public access and justice – in the sense of preventing the destruction of evidence of wrongdoing – to the people of New York State “, Jordan wrote.