FOI lawsuit challenges Mark Martin's hiring of outside counsel | Arkansas Blog

FOI lawsuit challenges Mark Martin's hiring of outside counsel

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CHAD PEKRON: Fellow elections commissioner with Mark Martin gets some of his legal business.
  • CHAD PEKRON: Fellow elections commissioner with Mark Martin gets some of his legal business.
Matt Campbell, who was forced to sue Secretary of State Mark Martin because his office wouldn't supply documents as required by the state Freedom of Information Act about the office's heavy use of outside legal counsel, has now filed a motion in that lawsuit contending that Martin's use of outside counsel in the FOI case is not allowed by law.

Here's the link to the filing.

And here's Campbell's account of the legal challenge on his blog, Blue Hog Report.

State law says that the attorney general "shall" be the attorney for constitutional officers such as Martin. Martin may use in-house counsel, of which he has plenty. And outside counsel may be sought if the attorney general can't represent the office, in which case the governor may appoint an alternative. When the governor appoints someone, a court is supposed to set compensation, not let the outside counsel charge at will. Not counting the firm hired for this FOI case, Campbell said Martin has spent more than $100,000 on outside counsel.

Last week, Chad Pekron of the Quattlebaum firm said in court filing that he'd been retained by Martin to defend the FOI suit Campbell brought. Soon after, Campbell got some of the documents he'd requested that Martin earlier said didn't exist.

Pekron, it so happens, is an appointee of the Republican House Speaker Davy Carter to the state Board of Election Commissioners, a bipartisan body that works closely with Martin's office on election matters and a body on which Martin himself sits. Someday, he may get to vote on issues where Martin and others on the commission have a difference of opinion.

I've asked the secretary of state's office for a response.

UPDATE from Alex Reed of Martin's office:

We don't comment on pending lawsuits, but I assume a filed response with the court will be forthcoming.

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