Matt Campbell, the Little Rock lawyer and Blue Hog Report blogger, filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today against Lt. Gov. Mark Darr because his office redacted his cell phone number from an information request Campbell had made for phone records. Campbell argues that the FOI does not provide an exemption for cell phone numbers of elected officials, though it explicitly does so for other state employees.
to Campbell that in “some” FOI cases courts have allowed a “balancing” test between public interest and privacy interests. Said Darr:
The public’sinterest is measured bythe extent to which disclosure ofthe information sought would shed light on how the government body in question is doing its job or otherwise let citizens know what the government body is doing. It is not apparent how the disclosure of a private cell phone numberwould accomplish this objective. In contrast, it isquite apparent that a statewide officeholder has a non-trivial privacy interest in not havingeveryone in the state have access to or knowledge of his personal cell phone number, especially because such information could be used for purposes of nuisance or harassment.
Campbell said there’s no privacy exemption in the state and none is created in public office records simply because Darr’s public phones were used to call his personal number. Of course. Why should his number be afforded more protection than any number call by the office?
Campbell asked for an expedted hearing, as the law allows. He criticized Darr for refusing to ask an attorney general’s opinion on the matter before deciding to redact the material supplied to Campbell.
Campbell is already in court with Secretary of State Mark Martin over that office’s lack of full compliance with FOI requests and its use of outside counsel for legal work without obtaining clearance from the attorney general, as law requires.
Campbell also filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission over Darr’s apparent use of campaign contributions for personal expenses, which is prohibited by law, and has raised further questions about Darr’s spending of his taxpayer-financed office expense account. That work has included matching travel expenditures and public appearances. Phone records conceivably could shed some light on those activities.