- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law hasn’t applied to the governor. However, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s office has released some emails and schedules under a provision in the state constitution, following a request by The Associated Press.

To gauge compliance with public-records laws, the AP sent requests to the top Democratic and Republican lawmakers in all states and most governors seeking copies of their schedules and emails from their government accounts for the week of Feb. 1 to Feb. 7.

Legislators didn’t respond in New Hampshire. The general practice has been that their emails, phone records and calendars have been considered exempt from public view, based on a 2011 attorney general opinion. Hassan’s office responded under Part I, Article 8 of the state constitution regarding the accountability of public servants to the people.

Emails received by Hassan’s office include a congratulatory note after her Feb. 4 State of the State address, an update on a Medicaid expansion bill, and a therapist’s request to help a child with a disability who was denied assistance under a Medicaid program. Hassan was copied in on that email, which was addressed to Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers.

Hassan’s legal counsel, Mary Ann Dempsey, wrote that 51 responsive documents were withheld. They constituted attorney-client privilege, personnel, drafts, notes, and/or deliberative processes and are considered exempt from disclosure.

Dempsey wrote that it is a long-standing position of the state Department of Justice that the state Right to Know law doesn’t apply to the governor’s office.

The state constitution, adopted in 1784, reads “All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them.” It was amended in 1976, to include “Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable, and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.”

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