I’d just sent questions to the attorney general’s office relative to, among others, the school choice case involving both the office, headed by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, and Hot Springs lawyer Andi Davis, with whom McDaniel has said he had an “inappropriate interaction.”
Then I saw the AP had also been talking with press aide Aaron Sadler, who said Davis was the lawyer on three other cases that had the attorney general on the other side, but that McDaniel had no direct involvement in those cases.
I don’t know what rules say about required disclosure when one lawyer in a case has had a personal connection with, effectively, the head of a major law firm also litigating a case through junior members. Doesn’t look so hot, at a minimum.
But the point is that many questions remain to be answered and McDaniel’s effort to stand mute after his brief acknowledgment of some sort of relationship is doomed ultimately to fail. The extent and timing of that relationship is part of what needs to be known to assess the propriety of his actions or inactions in the cases with shared interest. Questions remain, too, about whether his office’s help was sought in the Hot Springs homicide case in which a young man was found shot outside Davis’ houses. Though she was famously photographed leaving the house in handcuffs, she has not been named as a suspect. It remains under investigation, but lack of a criminal charge in the case, combined with the recent McDaniel revelation, is feeding a busy whispering mill.
McDaniel is due for a wide-ranging news conference on all these topics. It will be critical to his chances of going forward with a 2014 gubernatorial campaign. He can’t hide and delegate his side to sketchy responses from Aaron Sadler forever. I’d guess he won’t be seen in public before Christmas. But he best not wait too long after that to face the music. His candidacy rides on it.
FYI: The state Freedom of Information Act specifically exempts the attorney general’s papers from disclosure. So efforts to dig into his e-mail and phone records are doomed. He’s likely due some protection given his role as counsel for the state. But, as with the governor, I think the “working papers” exception should be exactly that, for true working papers, not for incidental billet doux, unrelated communications and other material, particularly on issues that have been concluded.
UPDATE: Aaron Sadler provides some direct answers on several questions related to cases involving both the office and Davis and about the Hot Springs murder case. The answers follow verbatim: