County employee sues commissioner for holding email records, calling her names

New Mexico News

A Sandoval County employee is calling a commissioner a bully after she caught him calling her names. When she tried to confront him about it, she claims he deleted the email proof.

“She wanted to find out exactly what was said because someone relayed to her that Commissioner Holden-Rhodes had made a series of comments denigrating various county employees,” said Attorney Thomas Grover.

Grover says his client, Tina, works in the human resources department for Sandoval County.

Back in September, a co-worker showed Tina an email sent from County Commissioner James Holden-Rhodes, addressing her as ‘Tina the Tyrant.’

“My client has seen the email that she wanted to get a copy of herself,” Grover said.

She sent a public information request, asking for the commissioner’s emails that contained keywords like ‘tyrant,’ but she didn’t expect to get a rejection.

“Mr. Holden-Rhodes responded with, ‘I’ve got nothing that pertains to this or these requests,'”  says Grover.

Grover says after the request was sent, the records custodian sent an email to Holden-Rhodes to ask him to provide the necessary documents from his county computer. 

“Pressed the records custodian who the identity of the requester was,” said Grover.

Once he found out who was requesting the emails, he responded to the custodian.

“Mr. Holden-Rhodes talks about frivolous IPRAs. How he clears his computer of any and all emails dealing with Sandoval County on a weekly basis,” said Grover.

Holden-Rhodes says he doesn’t have the emails, but never explains if those emails even existed.

“This is clearly unacceptable for a public official who’s deleting and clearing his computer of emails,” said Grover.

The employee is now suing the Sandoval County Commission and Holden-Rhodes for holding public records.

“It’s our contention that his representation… that he has nothing that pertains to the request is false,” Grover said.

A county spokesperson would not comment on the lawsuit, but does say county employees can delete emails.

The IT department can restore those emails within a three year period.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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