LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas attorney and blogger has filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas State Police that accuses the agency of illegally withholding public records he requested related to Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' travel and security.
Matthew Campbell, who runs the Blue Hog Report website, filed the lawsuit Tuesday challenging the State Police's response to records he requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The requests included communications regarding the security for Sanders and her husband, Bryan Sanders, and records regarding their costs.
Campbell also requested communications and travel records for the State Police plane, which the governor uses for travel, and records related to Sanders’ trade mission to Europe earlier this year.
State Police cited several exemptions in declining to release records that didn't apply, Campbell's lawsuit said. They include an exemption for the governor's “working papers,” and another regarding records related to governor's mansion security. State Police also claimed the documents were considered “personnel records” and would have been an unwarranted invasion of privacy, the lawsuit said.
"Neither what ASP and the governor’s office communicate to one another about security details, nor the expenditures incurred by ASP in providing a security detail are pieces of information that are so personal or intimate that they give rise to a substantial privacy interest," the lawsuit said. “Rather, these are government officials discussing work performed at public expense by other public employees.”
Campbell filed the lawsuit as lawmakers say they're preparing for a possible special session as soon as next week that could include changes to the state FOI law on the agenda. Sanders has left open the possibility of calling a session to focus primarily on tax cuts.
Campbell requested that a hearing be scheduled within seven days of his complaint.
A State Police spokeswoman said in a statement that the information requested would “violate ASP’s statutory obligation to ensure the safety and security of the Governor and the First Family.” Sanders' office criticized the lawsuit.
“It’s a new low in Arkansas politics for some on the radical left to weaponize FOIA and put the governor’s and her family’s lives in danger,” Alexa Henning, a spokeswoman for Sanders, said in an email.
Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press