A new group with a familiar spokesman complains that some Little Rock city officials
have been violating the Freedom of Information Act.
Specifically, it contends some city directors have been deleting emails so they wouldn't be uncovered by Freedom of Information Act complaints.
The news release comes from Russ Racop,
blogger and city board candidate, speaking as "ombudsman" for Arkansas Citizens for Credibility and Truth in Leadership
. He wants City Attorney Tom Carpenter
to ask for a special prosecutor to review the complaint, which would be a criminal violation if officials indeed intentionally deleted emails that would otherwise be public records to avoid producing them.
Racop has frequently asked for city director emails in the course of examining various aspects of city governance. He offered no specific evidence of such actions in the news release. I've asked Carpenter to respond.
He sent this note by e-mail:
I do not think that Board members have deleted emails because of FOIA requests. I would not be surprised if Board members – since the City does not have a retention policy – do not retain emails. If not, then they are not public records and are not subject to FOIA.
Racop's past inquiries have included requests for email of
City Director Doris Wright. His examination of her activities and difficulty in obtaining email prompted Carpenter some time ago to tell the board that emails on personal accounts about city business are subject to disclosure.
It's interesting that deleting emails can be an out. Deleting an email doesn't necessarily mean it can't be recaptured.