Gov. Mark Dayton's publicly available e-mails are not very revealing.
The Star Tribune asked for copies of all the e-mails and text messages he sent or received for the period when he was preparing for and recovering from back surgery and, a few weeks later, received a slim stack of 14 e-mails.
They include a few notes about media stories, his OK to close the governor's office at noon on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and a couple of other notes from staff.
As legally permitted, excluded from the packet were e-mails related to security information, legislative or budget proposals, personnel data, information protected by attorney-client privilege or "correspondence between individuals and elected officials," according to the governor's office.
Asked how many e-mails were excluded from the response, Dayton's director of operations, Paula Brown, said that "under law, we are required to permit inspection and copying of public government data, and we have done that with your request. This office has limited resources; we receive many requests for data, and we provide public, responsive data to requestors."
In other words, the office did not release a calculation of how many e-mails the governor sent or received that were not considered open to public view.
Although Dayton is known to send and receive text messages, Brown said her office found no gubernatorial text messages that were public data during the time period. In 2011, at least some of Dayton's text messages were made public in response to a request.
Despite the slenderness of the package of information from the governor's office, it actually included more public information than the law would have required former Gov. Tim Pawlenty to release. Throughout his two terms, he did not send e-mails, requests for data at the time revealed.
Dayton also released more information than any legislators would have to release. Minnesota's data practices law -- the rules that govern what state data is public and what is not -- does not cover the Legislature.
"I think we are fairly transparent," said House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, when asked about that exclusion. "I also think we have a constitutional provision in the Minnesota Constitution that causes issues with our ability to [make legislative correspondence public]."
Thissen spokesman Michael Howard said he was referring to Article VI, Section 10 of the Constitution, which reads, in part: "For any speech or debate in either house they shall not be questioned in any other place."
That has been read as a nearly complete protection of legislators' communications from public question.