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The Space Opera Award
New Mexico Spaceport Authority
In space, no one can hear you scream about thwarted public records requests, but down on Earth, you can take the government to court and make them listen.
That's what Heath Haussamen, editor and publisher of NMPolitics.net, did after the New Mexico Spaceport Authority in 2017 refused to hand over basic public records related to the private companies that lease real estate at Spaceport America, the much-publicized commercial launchpad just outside Truth or Consequences, N.M.
With a New Mexico Attorney General's Office opinion in hand that determined the Spaceport Authority had violated the state's open records law, Haussamen filed a lawsuit. After following the wormhole of the justice system, Haussamen finally received the records in 2019, along with a $60,000 settlement for his trouble — but not before the New Mexico Legislature stepped in and passed a new law granting the Spaceport even more secrecy over its operations.