Man running for mayor in Centeron files FOIA lawsuit seeking release of email communications
Fort Smith Attorney Joey McCutchen, along with his client Michael Commet, filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) complaint today against the City of Centerton. Michael Commet previously announced that he is running for mayor of Centerton.
The lawsuit arose after Commet sent three separate FOIA Requests seeking City bank records, Centerton City Attorney invoices, and email communications between Centerton Mayor Bill Edwards and all of the Centerton City Council members.
Centerton City Attorney Brian Rabal acknowledged that responsive records exist but has failed to fully produce the records pursuant to FOIA. Rabal initially stated that Commet needed to pay the City's costs--including labor costs-- before fulfilling one of Commet's requests.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has held that it is improper for a government entity to charge for labor when fulfilling a FOIA request.
McCutchen said, "It's outrageous that public officials still try to charge FOIA requesters for government-employee time to produce public records. Not only is that prohibited by FOIA, citizens have already paid for that service through their generous tax dollars.”
McCutchen added, "It's even more outrageous when public officials decide to blatantly disregard a FOIA request."