Raleigh, N.C. — Several media organizations sued Gov. Mike Easley on Monday, claiming his administration has routinely flouted the state's public records law by deleting official e-mails.
The suit seeks a court order preventing state employees from deleting government e-mails and requiring officials to ensure that people in their departments comply with the state public records law.
The e-mail debate has raged in the weeks since a fired Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said Easley's administration had an unwritten policy to delete e-mails daily.
Easley and members of his staff have denied the allegation, although handwritten notes from two public information officers support the fired worker's claim. The notes, taken during a May 2007 meeting, indicated the governor's press office told public information officers to delete e-mails.
The governor appointed a committee to review state policies for handling e-mails and text messages, but he said in a recent interview that he trusts state employees to delete only frivolous e-mails, such as invitations and jokes.
The Governor's Office receives about 900,000 e-mails each work day, and maintaining all of them would be expensive and time-consuming, he said.
Media representatives have argued that all e-mails sent to and from government offices are public records and should be maintained for possible future review.