New Hampshire Department of Justice
New Hampshire Department of Justice - an official New Hampshire Government Web site
Smaller text size Reset text size Larger text size

News Release

For Immediate Release
May 10, 2010

Attorney General Michael A. Delaney

E-Mail Records at the Attorney General's Office

The Attorney General's Office has received numerous recent inquiries about Right-to-Know requests related to the governmental records maintained by former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. The Attorney General's Office possesses and has publicly released e-mails received by and sent by former Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte. The released e-mails are redacted to the extent necessary to prevent disclosure of confidential information in accordance with the Right-to-Know law. Any individual who would like a copy of the e-mails and other public records which have previously been released in response to 91-A requests can contact the Attorney General's Office and receive a disc containing the documents produced to date. They are available immediately.

On August 18, 2009, the Attorney General's Office received a Right-to-Know request seeking, among other things, the official correspondence (in written or electronic form) of Kelly Ayotte dating back to June 1, 2003. The Attorney General's Office began producing responsive documents and e-mails on October 9, 2009. Given the volume of the requested documents, and the scope of the search needed to conduct an office-wide search of all files to locate responsive documents and review materials, documents have been produced on a rolling basis between October 2009 and present. Over 5,000 documents have been produced to date, and the production is ongoing.

Since receiving the first Right-to-Know request regarding former Attorney General Ayotte's e-mails, formal correspondence, and other records, over 160 hours have been spent by attorneys and support staff locating, reviewing, and preparing those governmental records for disclosure. This amounts to over $20,000 in personnel costs. Substantial additional time will be devoted to pending and new requests. The Right-to-Know law provides that the person requesting governmental records pays only for the actual costs of copying, which for our Office has been calculated at $.20 per page provided in electronic format.

We are continuing to review our files to locate all e-mails to or from former Attorney General Ayotte. We will make available those disclosures, as the disclosures are completed.

Recent press accounts reporting that all e-mails to or from former Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte were deleted are not accurate. As the e-mails that have been produced to date demonstrate, the Attorney General's Office has preserved and is disclosing e-mails in accordance with State law.

Former Attorney General Ayotte's e-mail account and only those e-mails which had been left in that system's electronic in-box, out-box or deleted items box, were deleted, after her departure from the office. Substantive e-mails sent to and received by her were preserved in the specific case and matter files they addressed, or in many instances for internal e-mails, in the files of the other members of the Office who had received those e-mails. E-mails, like all other forms of the government records we possess, may be preserved in different formats and generally are filed based on the subject of the record. After an e-mail is processed out of the e-mail system, there is no one place where every e-mail to or from any one member of the Office is stored. Significant e-mails are, however, preserved either on paper or in electronic format, sometimes both.

Currently, attorney's electronic calendars are kept primarily on the Microsoft Outlook e-mail system. General Ayotte's calendar was in the calendar file located within her Outlook system account and was deleted when her account was deleted. Former Attorney General Ayotte's Outlook calendar and e-mail account was closed out and ultimately deleted in the same manner that all former employees' e-mail accounts are closed and deleted.

We are working with the Office of Information Technology to determine whether any items in her Outlook account can be restored from backup tapes of our system. I am reviewing the circumstances and practices surrounding the removal of former Attorney General Ayotte's Outlook Account after her departure, and I will carefully review our existing practices. I will provide further information on this subject matter in the upcoming days.

The Attorney General's Office takes its duties under the Right-to-Know law seriously. Since July 1, 2009, members of this Office have spent over 1000 hours locating, copying or scanning, and preparing governmental records held by this Office for disclosure pursuant to the Right-to-Know law. During Fiscal Year 2009, July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009, members of this Office spent over 1,100 hours on Right-to-Know requests for records held by this Office. We started separately tracking time spent on Right-to-Know production for files held by this Office during Fiscal Year 2008. During approximately 8 months that year over 828 hours were spent producing documents in satisfaction of Right-to-Know requests. This time effort does not include the time spent assisting other state agencies with their Right-to-Know requests.

Please contact our office if you would like a copy of the e-mails and documents produced to date.

New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658