Emails have been in the national news in a major way in recent years, and now Arizona has its own intrigue. The new Democratic secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, says her predecessor and staff deleted many emails before leaving office at the end of last year. That followed Michele Reagan’s defeat as Democrats claimed a few of the statewide offices in November. This may seem like something not very serious, but it is.
Now the office of Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich is involved, investigating what may be a criminal matter. Brnovich has shown during four years in office that he is aggressive in enforcing Arizona law, without regard to politics. And that is what Arizonans should expect.
Some special agents have been assigned to investigate the matter after Brnovich received a written communication from Hobbs on Statehood Day, Feb. 14. That seems fitting, as Arizona has a pretty good tradition of avoiding partisan politics in matters of how government functions.
Reagan, who was a longtime public official, said she and her former top staff members did not delete emails. But the question is obvious: If they are gone — how did that happen?
Reagan has called the allegation “reckless and irresponsible” and questioned whether there is any proof. But if the allegation is false, that certainly will be demonstrated by the attorney general’s investigation. Another obvious question is why a new public official would invent such a charge.
The emails were found to be missing after the Arizona Mirror submitted a request for them. State law says an elected official who “without lawful authority destroys, mutilates, defaces, alters, falsifies, removes or secretes” a public record is guilty of a felony that can lead to 3.75 years in prison.
Yes, emails are public records, as Hillary Clinton may have learned from her recent ordeal. At least we hope she did.
This case needs a full investigation.