Ethics Commission Says Text Messages are Public Records

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Tupelo, Miss.
The Mississippi Ethics Commission says public officials' text messages about government business are public records.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that the commission's first opinion on the matter was unanimous. It came in a dispute between the newspaper and the city of Tupelo.

The advisory opinion says the government broke Mississippi's public records law by refusing to give the newspaper copies of text messages sent by Mayor Jason Shelton from Oct. 23-26, when a city official resigned.

Tupelo city attorney Ben Logan told the commission in February that if its opinion said to do so, he would recommend adopting detailed policies and procedures for identifying and storing texts that are public records.

Logan said in October the city does not have Shelton's text messages.