Blue Hog blogger files FOIA lawsuit seeking state police records on governor's travel costs

Blogger Matt Campbell answers questions from the media in this Nov. 2022 file photo.(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

Attorney Matt Campbell, the Blue Hog Report blogger, is taking his fight to figure out how much Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is spending on travel, among other things, to Pulaski County Circuit Court.

But Sanders is not a defendant. The Democrat-leaning Campbell sued the Arkansas State Police on Tuesday, claiming the agency has repeatedly violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act by withholding records of how much providing security for Sanders and her husband has cost the agency, including costs to provide her and her family with security during her June trip to Europe for a trade mission. 

Campbell’s suit said he has received some records, but only a few reflect what he’s asked the State Police to provide. He stated he is now petitioning Circuit Judge Herb Wright to convene a hearing for the judge decide whether State Police are illegally withholding records. Campbell is further asking the judge to order State Police to pay his expenses for filing the suit

Campbell’s suit is also seeking other records State Police have refused to provide flight logs and related records for State Police airplanes, including travel reimbursements for any passengers, on its aircraft. 

Campbell said he had been negotiating release of documentation with staff attorneys up until a week ago when State Police Chief Counsel Joan Shipley notified him that he'd received everything the agency was going to give him.

Further materials Campbell had requested would not be released "due to security concerns" related to State Police duties to protect the governor, according to communications cited by Shipley in Campbell's suit.

Campbell stated that he persuaded Shipley to release more documents but what he got on Monday was 210 pages of records that "contained multiple illegal redactions of the names of other passengers who flew on ASP planes with the Governor."