SAN DIEGO (CN) - An open government group sued San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, claiming he used his personal email account for city business and uses it as an excuse to conceal his city-related emails.
San Diegans for Open Government in Superior Court claims that Goldsmith does this deliberately and for a political reason, creating a barrier that shields his e-mails from public scrutiny, according to the lawsuit.
The group, which refers to itself as SDOG, claims that Goldsmith creates an environment in which his subordinates and indeed every other city official and employee can plausibly claim that the city has no control over their email accounts, and can claim their email communications are not "public records."
City Council members have publicly bragged about using their personal email accounts to conduct city business and preventing their communications from becoming part of the city's records, according to the lawsuit.
SDOG claims that Goldsmith told a colleague, "I'll scratch your back, if you'll scratch mine," specifically referring to limiting access to personal emails.
Goldsmith has released some of his emails "selectively," so as to propagandize his official conduct in a way most favorable to him, according to the lawsuit.
Goldsmith refused to release one email even after releasing it to a preferred media outlet, SDOG claims in the lawsuit.
SDOG seeks a writ of mandate ordering Goldsmith to comply with the California Public Records Act.
It is represented by Briggs Law.
Goldsmith's publicity director reponded to the lawsuit with a statement saying, "Cory Briggs has already filed a lawsuit seeking Interim Mayor Todd Gloria's private records such as e-mails. That case is pending in Superior Court. In response, the City of San Diego's legal position - in that case and any others - is to follow two appellate court decisions which, relying upon the language in the law, held that public agencies have an obligation to produce disclosable public records in the possession of the agency, but that does not extend to private records not in the agency's possession. Whether to expand obligations under the law is up to the Legislature."