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New Mexico governor raises constitutional questions about public records law

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SANTA FE, New Mexico — Gov. Susana Martinez is raising constitutional arguments in defending against a lawsuit by The Associated Press. The news organization is seeking public records about her travel and work schedules as well as cell phone calls by the governor and her staff.

In documents filed Monday in state district court, the governor's lawyer said a court injunction sought by the AP to enforce the public records law would violate the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers. Attorney Paul Kennedy argued that if the court granted the AP request, "it would put the judicial department in charge of creating regulations for, and administering the operations of" Martinez's office and the Department of Finance and Administration.

Kennedy asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, and said the administration "acted in good faith" on the records requests.

The AP sought records on Martinez's travel, schedule and expenses as she took a higher profile on the national political stage, including several out-of-state trips and a speaking spot at the Republican National Convention.

The governor's office has described the administration as the "most transparent in state history," and has contended that some of the requested information, such as the governor's personal and campaign calendars, has nothing to do with state business and is outside of the scope of the Inspection of Public Records Act.

Kennedy argued that federal law, because of the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause, pre-empts the state's records in some instances.

The AP lawsuit contends the administration violated state law by not releasing the governor's work calendars, including travel for political purposes and on personal matters, and improperly redacting numbers from logs of cell phone calls.

The administration has said it would create a security risk if it identified telephone numbers for Martinez, her husband, members of the governor's family and State Police officers assigned to protect the governor.

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