The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports
that Rodney Forte
, director of the Metropolitan Housing Alliance
, has been convicted by Judge Alice Lightle of a Class C misdemeanor for violating the Freedom of Information Act in not fully responding to document requests by the newspaper Lightle fined Forte $100 and assessed $140 in costs, the newspaper said.
The violation carries a penalty up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Lightle termed the violation "negligent." Forte's defense was that his agency had tried to cooperate with the newspaper. No word yet if he plans an appeal.
The agency oversees federally funded housing programs and projects. The newspaper made numerous document requests over several months. It complained to the prosecuting attorney about non-compliance and the office agreed that the agency's lack of response was sufficient for a prosecution.
FOI prosecutions are extremely rare. I'd hope a successful one would send a signal to other recalcitrant public officials.