A million bucks from Tom Brady, and every public official may want to think again about his texting patterns. Attorney Ted Wells found “the import and relevance of those text messages” to be critical in his decision regarding the New England Patriots’ use of deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game.
Texting seems private, as those locker-room guys must have felt. It isn’t. Here in Washington State, the archivist has just issued extensive guidance on this subject. Text messages about the work of a public agency are public records, no matter who owns the device on which they are sent and received. Furthermore, they have to be retained and managed – you can’t just count on the phone company to have copies available.
We’re all aware of the danger of texting while driving. Here is another kind of hazard to avoid in your service as an elected official or public employee.