Little Rock admits to illegally withholding public records from blogger

FILE — Little Rock City Hall is shown in this 2019 file photo.
FILE — Little Rock City Hall is shown in this 2019 file photo.

Little Rock illegally withheld public records, many of them involving the city’s failed LITFest project, from attorney Matt Campbell, the Blue Hog Report blogger, city lawyers admitted in open court on Tuesday at what was supposed to be a hearing on Campbell’s open-records lawsuit against the city.

“The city is admitting liability,” Deputy City Attorney Alan Jones told Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chip Welch, stating that Little Rock is committed to providing Campbell everything he’s entitled to.

The concession in the Blue Hog lawsuit is potentially expensive since the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act allows Campbell to seek reimbursement for his time and expenses, and he said he’s already put at least 12 hours into trying to get the city to turn over documents he’s been seeking over the past seven weeks. Campbell will have to petition the judge for approval for any compensation, which the city can challenge.

Campbell said he unusually gets paid $250 to $300 per hour but there’s still more work to do reviewing materials the city has begun to turn over to ensure that he’s getting what he asked for. Campbell has made 13 requests and just one one of the city disclosures is 20,000 pages.

Earlier Tuesday, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox ruled Little Rock police violated the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act at least three times in the department’s dealings with critic Russ Racop, responding to the lawsuit the Snarky Media Report blogger filed to force compliance with the open-records law.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Deputy City Attorney Alan Jones' name.