City council emails on private servers are still public records

Aspen Daily News: Emails involving government business that Councilman Art Daily sent and received using a private account qualify as public records, according to Aspen’s city attorney.

In four years as a city council member, Daily never once logged in to his city of Aspen email account listed on the government’s website under elected official contact information.

Instead, Daily, when he was elected in 2013, told city officials he would prefer to use his existing email through his Holland and Hart law firm for correspondence related to his council duties. He said on Wednesday he was under the impression that emails sent to his city of Aspen address were being forwarded to his private account.

That never happened, until Monday, when the 8,000 unopened messages sitting in his city inbox were delivered to Daily’s other address. He said he plans to go through all the messages; most are spam and other junk mail, but within that trove are sure to be hundreds of messages from constituents weighing in on issues of the day. According to City Clerk Linda Manning, the most recent constituent email on the city server was delivered on April 8.

“I never realized there was something I was not getting,” Daily said. “That may sound a little foolish, but it’s the truth.

“I’m not up to speed on modern communication,” Daily, who is in his 70s and has practiced law in Aspen for 49 years, further conceded. “I don’t mean that as an excuse; it’s simply the way I’ve been living my life.”

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