Tuesday, August 12, 2014

USAO mum on new revelation about Cuomo's e-mail deleting policy

PUBLISHED : TUES, 12 AUG 2014, 11:21 AM
UPDATED : TUES, 12 AUG 2014, 02:41 PM

As Gov. Cuomo was forming the Moreland Commission, he instituted a new policy that would purge state employees' e-mails

Did Gov. Cuomo have something to hide ?

In a shocking new report, ProPublica reporter Theodoric Meyer raises new questions about an e-mail deletion policy instituted by the Cuomo administration for state employees. The new policy, rolled out last year, automatically deletes state employees' e-mails after 90 days if they are not deliberately and methodically saved for various reasons.

Under new rules for archiving e-mails as records, if state employees don't make the extra, tedious effort to code e-mails under a maze of classification options, then state e-mails are left to be automatically purged, a default move that violates the spirit of government transparency and public records access that are intended to keep elected officials and state government accountable to voters. The revelation of the e-mail deleting policy comes atop of known Cuomo administration paranoia over the use of electronic communications. Two years ago, The New York Times reported that top Cuomo aides routinely communicated with the governor through unarchivable Blackberry PIN messages, to enshroud the work of running the state government's business in secret.

In an Orwellian move, the New York State Archives under the Cuomo administration determined that most e-mails "are not records in need of preservation."

The timing of the new e-mail deleting policy, announced under a memorandum, which the Cuomo administration kept secret for over one year, is suspect. The memorandum was dated June 18, 2013 -- just two weeks before Gov. Cuomo announced on July 2, 2013 the formation of a corruption-fighting panel named the Moreland Commission. The Moreland commissioners were deputized as assistant attorneys general and were conferred subpoena power to investigate corruption across New York state government.

That Cuomo accelerated the state's e-mail deleting policy just as he was launching the doomed Moreland Commission has raised concerns amongst government reform activists. Gov. Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission after a host controversies, chief amongst them the coordinated activities by his own top aides to obstruct the investigative work of the Moreland commissioners and their staff, earning the ire of the powerful federal prosecutor, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for New York's southern district. Mr. Bharara sent a warning letter to Gov. Cuomo after it appeared that Gov. Cuomo was possibly engaging in witness tampering. A press official in Mr. Bharara's office was asked this morning how could voters count on the integrity of the federal investigation into the Cuomo administration's controversial acts that led to the premature closing of the Moreland Commission if Gov. Cuomo instituted a policy of deleting e-mails, but the press official refused to comment.


Why is the Cuomo Administration Automatically Deleting State Employees’ E-mails ? (ProPublica)

New Cuomo e-mail retention policy kills e-mails after 90 days (The Times Union)

E-mail retention memo raises new questions about the state's rationale for its deletions policy (ProPublica)

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