After reading on MySaline.com about Josh Curtis’ announcement last week for re-election to the Saline County Quorum Court, I decided to ask Curtis, the $51,000-a-year government relations director for the non-existent lieutenant governor of Arkansas, what he’d been doing in the office one day last week.
When he didn’t respond, I made an FOI request for his e-mail and text messaging for last week. I received a file Friday afternoon that is said to constitute the entirety of his e-mail — in and out. You’ll find fewer than 10 pieces of e-mail, including a couple from me. The only directly relevant piece of state business appeared to be an invitation to a Boy Scout award ceremony. He never would talk to me about what he was doing. Too busy I guess.
I was provided no text messages. Amber Pool, the $57,000 a year communications director for a non-existent lieutenant governor, said employees don’t have state cell phones. I mentioned that you may not use private electronic devices and accounts to conduct state business. as a way around the FOI. The FOI would require disclosure of anything that constituted a record of performance of public duties, whether on state on private phone or computer.
Of course, there may be no record of performance of public duty when there are no duties to perform. Whatever it is, it doesn’t entail talking to the press. Bruce Campbell, the office’s $75,000 chief of staff and father-in-law of Republican Joint Budget Co-Chair Duncan Baird, was spotted hanging around the tunnel in front of the Capitol one day. Columnist John Brummett said Campbell declined to talk to him.
You’d think there’d a least have been some electronic high-fives over the news last week that Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux, who’s essentially declared himself acting lieutenant governor, despite an absence of legal authority to do so, had killed legislation to reduce the budget of the four-person office. It chews up $267,000 a year in taxpayer money to do nothing. The Fab Four get a full year of pay and benefits for no meaningful work from a legislature that is refusing to pass along a federal subsidy for health insurance for the working poor.
For the record: Shelli Russell at My Saline.com informed me that the email she received from Curtis on his JP candidacy was mailed after state office hours.