Freedom of Information lawsuit filed against Mark Martin | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Freedom of Information lawsuit filed against Mark Martin

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 6:48 AM

MARK MARTIN: Slow and inadequate response to FOI request, lawsuit says.
  • MARK MARTIN: Slow and inadequate response to FOI request, lawsuit says.
Here's a copy of the lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain communications between Secretary of State Mark Martin and a law firm about defense of the office against suits filed by two fired Capitol police officers.

The Democrat-Gazette quoted an office spokesman this morning as saying all requested documents have been supplied. I"ve asked Matt Campbell, the plaintiff, if that's so. Last night he'd indicated otherwise:

To date, I've received the PDFs and printouts (but nothing electronic) of two of the Word files. I've also received lies and half-truths about emails being deleted after thirty days (despite the fact that all of the emails I received in my previous FOIA request were older than thirty days) and the email-retention policy that they sent you re: Soderquist in 2011 (which violates DFA retention rules). By the end, they seemed convinced that I wouldn't actually file a lawsuit to get the stuff, so I decided to call their bluff.

UPDATE: Campbell says this morning that the office has still refused to provide electronic versions of all documents. Electronic versions of Word documents often contain underlying information about editing. Says Campbell:

That's a large part of it, sure. But also because the law specifically allows me to get the documents in that format. Disclosure under the FOIA isn't subject to the whims of the Secretary of State or Alex Reed, despite what they might believe.

Even if Martin had complied with the law, it happened after excessive foot-dragging and took a lawsuit.

Matt Campbell is a lawyer himself and authors the Blue Hog Report, a blog with liberal Democratic leanings.

(Small point: I am not sure exactly why "liberal blogger" was important enough in this matter to be in the first three words of the Democrat-Gazette story on the issue. When the Democrat-Gazette files an FOI suit, the story customarily doesn't open with "A conservative Republican newspaper today sued ....." What's at issue here, first, aren't Campbell's politics but whether a public official had promptly and fully complied with the state law on access to publish records.)

But if the spin is important, you can see it all right here at Blue Hog Report.

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