Records request targets Corsiglias e-mails

Amid FBI and Sheriff's Office seizure of computer, Scappoose attorney is seeking Joe Corsiglia's e-mails

Columbia County Commissioner Joe Corsiglia's complaint that prompted removal of his computer to the evidence room at the Columbia County Sheriff's Office comes amid a request for information filed by Michael Sheehan, a Scappoose attorney, to look at all of Corsiglia's e-mails dating back to 2005.

Electronic information, including e-mails and other writings, stored on the computers of public officials is considered open to public inspection under Oregon law.

Sheehan paid $460 earlier this month to have a look at all e-mails, both received and sent, that have amassed on Corsiglia's computer.

Sheehan said the county has indicated it would take a week or two to compile the information listed on the Jan. 18 request.

Sheehan is seeking all incoming and outgoing e-mails, all browser history information, all data on 'cookies,' as that term is known in the computer industry, and any and all records of Web sites visited by Corsiglia using his county computer

Oregon law considers e-mails of public officials as public documents and open to inspection except for a narrow set of exemptions, such as correspondence concerning property transactions or personnel matters.

In 2004, Sheehan submitted a similar request that the county answered with a $20,100 bill.

The 2004 request was more extensive than his current submittal. In addition to the e-mails, he had requested all of Corsiglia's correspondence to officials within the city of St. Helens or the state of Oregon, including the state Economic and Community Development Department.

Sheehan said county officials explained the steep pricetag as the result of not knowing where the requested records were stored.

'They have an obligation to maintain that stuff in order, and they can't say we're going to cost you a bajillion dollars because we didn't keep the records in order,' he said.

Sheehan admits there is a political motivation behind his request.

'That's certainly a factor,' he said. 'I would like to see somebody else in that position.'

Earl Fisher, a former Port of St. Helens commissioner and superintendent for the Clatskanie School District, is challenging incumbent Corsiglia in the May primary for the Democratic party's nod to the commission seat.

Fisher said he had nothing to do with the request. He added, however, that he is acquainted with Sheehan, and that he is willing to contribute financially to secure the documents.

Fisher also said he would like to view the documents if Sheehan is successful.

'If they're made available, you're darn right I would,' he said.

Corsiglia said he has not seen the request for records, though he said he did not believe Fisher would be behind the request.