MONTPELIER – In a blow to Vermont transparency laws, state Attorney General T.J. Donovan has directed all government employees to begin using their personal e-mail accounts for official state business. Under Vermont law, the public has a right to access state business, but Donovan contends that this does not apply to state business conducted via personal accounts, and so has encouraged all employees to “do anything they don’t want the public to know about” through more private channels.
“Things were going smoothly until quite recently,” Donovan told reporters, “when the guy that used to have my job got called into court over some previous business, and I realized, oh my gosh, someday I’m going to be the guy that used to have my job, and what if I get called into court? What if my friends and co-workers get called into court? And everything we’ve ever said and done will just be out there on display? That sounds terrifying. So I’m doing everything on my gmail now, and I hope everyone else will join me. The last thing we want is for people to know what we’re doing.”
Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos disagrees with Donovan, and maintains that any government business, no matter the method in which it is conducted, must fall under the same transparency laws. “I don’t care if you send an e-mail, a gmail, a hotmail, or a paper airplane across the office, the public has a right to know what their elected officials are doing,” Condos said.
“Agree to disagree,” was Donovan’s only response.