Looking for loopholes | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Looking for loopholes

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 2:09 PM

State Rep. Jon Woods (R-Outer Space) posed questions to the attorney general about whether private e-mail accounts used by public officials for public business would be open under FOI requests. No, private businesses would not be obligated to respond to FOI requests. But the attorney general's opinion seems to be that, somehow, you ultimately could not defeat FOI access to public documents generated this way. From the opinion:

If the e-mails constitute “public records” under the FOIA, and the corporation is not required to produce them in response to a FOIA request directed to the corporation, a question might arise about how to obtain them. While it is clear that there must be a procedure to obtain the records, the details of that procedure are unclear under the FOIA because the Arkansas Supreme Court has not squarely addressed the situation you posit. In my opinion, there must be a procedure to obtain these e-mails because, otherwise, the FOIA would be subverted, which is something the Arkansas Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear it will not permit.[3] If no procedural mechanism exists to obtain admittedly public records, then a citizen’s substantive right to obtain the records is effectively destroyed.

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