by Max Brantley
While not agreeing that he is required to release any of the material by law, McDaniel through a spokesman has released what he says is the totality of communications between his office and Hot Springs lawyer Andi Davis or related to cases concerning Davis.
The verbatim release from spokesman Aaron Sadler follows. In short: There's been limited contact that, on the surface, presents no untoward appearance. There WAS, despite representations to the contrary yesterday, a contact with the office concerning a homicide in which Davis' name has surfaced, but it was apparently treated routinely.
The release should forestall any legal action to seek this same information. That's of benefit to McDaniel politically in the matter at hand, but forestalling any lawsuit is important in the potentially far-reaching consequence of winning a court ruling generally broadening access to papers that the attorney general and governor and other public officials have long tried to put under a blanket "working papers" exception.
Davis is the lawyer with whom McDaniel has said he had an inappropriate "interaction" for which he has apologized to his wife. He has vowed to continue to run for governor in 2014. The political world is buzzing whether this revelation almost two years before a general election fatally damages that plan. The release from his office (and here is documentation provided with this statement):
I know that we are right up on the weekend and Christmas, so I appreciate your patience.
At no time should our responses to Freedom of Information Act requests be seen as any attempt to conceal information about Attorney General McDaniel’s interaction with Ms. Davis. As you know, the law provides for certain exceptions to disclosure related to our office.
That being said, in this specific instance, the AG thinks it is important to disclose communications involving himself and Ms. Davis related to the office, even though they are not subject to release. Those records are attached to this email.
The simple fact, which I will reiterate, is that the Attorney General had no direct involvement in the cases in which Ms. Davis represented opposing parties.
Inquiries have been made about the AG's schedule. Although it is not attached, I can tell you that it has been reviewed carefully and it contains no reference to Ms. Davis at any time.
Inquiries have been made about state cell phone records. There are no records or bills that reflect any calls or text messages to or from Ms. Davis on any state cell phone.
I want to provide some context on the attached records:
Inquiries have been made for the AG's travel records for fiscal year 2011, and those records are attached. They are routine and contain no reference to Ms. Davis.
Inquiries have been made about emails between Ms. Davis and the AG. There are two emails from Ms. Davis to the AG's office that are addressed to or copied to the AG. The AG was copied on an email from Ms. Davis to Senior Assistant AG Warren Readnour on March 7, 2012. The AG did not respond to the email, nor did he ever discuss the email with her or with Mr. Readnour.
Also, an e-mail was sent to the AG on Aug. 17, 2012, attaching a copy of the Circuit Court Order and asking for the office's assistance. The AG did not reply to that email. As I have already noted, the AG’s office is a certified law enforcement agency, and the order was copied to our office by the Circuit Court.
There was also one letter on July 13, 2011, to Mr. Readnour from Ms. Davis that indicates it was cc’ed to the AG. The AG did not actually receive a copy of this letter and never discussed the contents of it with either Ms. Davis or Mr. Readnour.
No email or written correspondence from Ms. Davis in the school choice case included the AG.
Inquiries have also been made about records of phone calls. There are records of two phone calls from the AG to Ms. Davis. The first call was nearly two years ago on Feb. 22, 2011, and it lasted eight minutes. The AG has no memory of that call. Approximately a year-and-a-half later, a second call took place, on Aug. 17, 2012, at 1:39 pm. This call lasted 20 minutes and 20 seconds and was related to the custody order described above. The call included both the AG and Special Investigations Division Chief Jason French. On the call, Ms. Davis described her request for assistance to Chief French. Pursuant to the Court Order, Chief French made two phone calls to New Jersey law enforcement. At 4:07 p.m., Chief French spoke to Ms. Davis in a call that lasted three minutes to inform her that there was nothing the AG's office could do to assist her and referred her to law enforcement in New Jersey. The AG never discussed the matter with Ms. Davis or Chief French again.
We have also enclosed a copy of the Circuit Court order. This is publicly available, but since we are referencing emails and phone calls related to it, I wanted you to have it in front of you.
Inquiries have also been made about correspondence related to the death of Maxwell Anderson. We have discovered one email dated Aug. 12, 2012, that was sent to our public email address. That email is attached. Our ombudsman, who monitors this email address, receives hundreds of requests each year for the AG's office to participate in local criminal matters. This year, she fielded 380 such requests. None are ever granted because that is outside of our jurisdiction. As is the normal course of business, the ombudsman sent the attached standard response to this inquiry on Aug. 13, 2012, without notifying either the AG or senior staff. No follow-up communications or inquires have been made to the AG's office related to this case. In addition, no official requests for assistance have been made by any law enforcement agency to the AG's office with regard to the Maxwell Anderson case.