By Daniel Libit
In a week that has seen stunning reports about the University of New Mexico’s internal discussions on how to undercut the state’s Inspection of Public Record Act, we are still plowing ahead with our attempts to enforce it.
As you may recall, I filed a lawsuit last March, claiming that the University of New Mexico Foundation should be required to disclose correspondence and financial records related to the ill-fated WisePies naming-rights agreement. The Foundation and the University’s Board of Regents have opposed my motion on the grounds that UNMF is organized as a distinct not-for-profit organization.
Last week, we filed our motion for summary judgment in the case. The motion contends that, on account of at least four different legal arguments, the Foundation should be required to turn over its documents:
- By the lights of IPRA and previous New Mexico Supreme Court rulings, UNMF is, in fact, a public body.
- UNMF’s status as a public body, subject to state disclosure laws, has been repeatedly codified by other state Supreme Courts that have reviewed cases involving university foundations.
- There is a common law right for the public to access the kinds of records I have sought in this case.
- The UNMF records I seek are public records, regardless of whether or not the foundation is a public body.
As the motion concludes:
The University and the Foundation possess the documents that have been requested by the Plaintiff. There is no dispute that the University of New Mexico Foundation and the University of New Mexico engage in extensive document sharing. Nor is there a dispute that this document sharing includes the amount of money raised by the Foundation, the identity of donors, when gifts are received, and other information related to the Foundation’s fundraising activities. And, there is no dispute that employees and officers of the Foundation and the University engage in extensive communications regarding these issues, including communications between [UNMF Vice President] Larry Ryan and [former UNM Athletic Director] Paul Krebs, as well as other Foundation and University employees, regarding the WisePies naming agreement. Therefore, because the University of New Mexico is subject to IPRA, because the records sought from both the Foundation and the University are public records, and because those records exist, the Foundation and University should be compelled to disclose for inspect(ion) the records requested by the plaintiff.”
You can read the full motion here.