Favorite

Contracting out 

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office paid the law firm Friday, Eldredge and Clark $3,190.27 to draft a Freedom of Information Act policy for the office. It is in part a restatement of the law, widely available in free booklets distributed by the attorney general, who also is available to provide assistance to state officials.

The payments were made in two installments. The first payment of $2,580.27 was made on May 16, 2011. A second invoice, dated June 8, shows a payment of $610. The work followed complaints about handling of FOI requests from the media and others for office documents and an allegation from one former employee that an office employee had said she'd destroy information about a $54,000 consulting contract rather than turn it over under a pending FOI request from the Arkansas Times.

The final document provided by Friday, Eldredge and Clark is just over one page long and advises the Secretary of State's office on how to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests (in what format documents should be produced, the cost of producing requests, etc.).

For example, one paragraph reads, "In the event the Secretary of State estimates that the total fee for reproducing the public records will exceed $25.00, the Secretary of State shall notify the citizen of the estimated fee and require the citizen to pay the fee before copying the public record request." The law provides: "If the fee exceeds twenty five dollars, the custodian may require the requester to pay that fee in advance."

Alex Reed, a spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, said it's normal for state offices to obtain outside counsel.

"The reason we got outside counsel was because [a former staffer], Teresa [Belew], accused us of criminal conduct," he said. "We chose [to hire outside counsel rather than consult with the attorney general's office] to avoid a potential conflict of interest."

Aaron Sadler, spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, says state offices don't have to use their services.

"We always stand ready to assist agencies, boards and commissions as the state's legal counsel," Sadler says. "However, approval by the Attorney General's Office to hire outside counsel is only necessary if there is special language in an agency appropriation bill that states that such approval is specifically required. So, agencies occasionally obtain outside counsel through the normal professional-service contract process. Sometimes, as in this instance, our office is not aware of those contracts."

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Latest in The Insider

  • All in the family

    Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • 'Circuit breaker' legal

    When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • Church goes to school in Conway

    An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.
    • Jan 23, 2013
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation