Q&A: Private cell phone used by public worker

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From the city of Indianapolis:

Q: If the city gives an employee a stipend to help cover the cost of a private cell phone because the employee also uses it for work-related calls, would that subject the phone records to the Access to Public Records Act?  

A: The Access to Public Records Act defines public records as those that a public agency creates, receives, retains, maintains or files.

In this scenario, the public agency doesn’t touch the records but merely compensates the employee for the phone usage.

I don’t think the private phone records would fall under the access act.

The only possibility for obtaining records would be if the employee effectively made the cell phone his or her business phone for the government unit.

In a Texas case, a state legislator printed business cards with her cell phone listed as the contact number for constituents.

A judge ruled that since the legislator was advertising her personal number as the official number for her legislative office, that number and its records were subject to Texas’ public records law.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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