DHS employee tells TV station she deleted e-mails related to investigation of sexual harassment claims at state ME's Office

A DHS employee hired to investigate sexual harassment claims at the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office might have violated state law by deleting e-mails from her state account, Fox 25 in Oklahoma City reported Tuesday.

The television station said the e-mails might show that the employee illegally shared her investigatory files with lawmakers.

The employee told Fox 25 that she had deleted the e-mails before the station requested them.

By deleting the e-mails, the station noted, the employee might have violated state law regarding the retention of records by state agencies.

Oklahoma's Records Management Act prohibits state officials from deciding on their own to mutilate, destroy, transfer, remove, alter, or otherwise damage or dispose of records they create or receive in the course of their public duties. (OKLA. STAT. tit. 67,
§ 209)

"No state record shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of unless it is determined by the Archives and Records Commission that the record has no further administrative, legal, fiscal, research or historical value," the statute states. (OKLA. STAT. tit. 67,
§ 210)

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.