Lawsuit filed against Arkansas State Police about Gov. Sanders’ travel info

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 8,674 views 

Little Rock attorney and political blogger Matt Campbell has filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas State Police (ASP) claiming the state law enforcement agency is not complying with record requests related to the travel of Gov. Sarah Sanders.

Campbell filed the 18-page complaint Tuesday (Sept. 5) in the Pulaski County Circuit Court. In it, he alleges a “denial of the rights guaranteed under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.”

In three requests dated June 23, Aug. 14 and Aug. 21, Campbell asked for communications, documents, travel logs and other details related to the use of an ASP plane that is used by Gov. Sanders. The ASP provides vehicle and air travel for the governor’s office. Campbell’s requests included:

• All communications regarding ASP security for Bryan Sanders, Gov. Sanders’ husband, and Gov. Sanders;
• All documents regarding expenditures and costs associated with ASP security for Gov. Sanders and Bryan Sanders;
• All flight logs for any plane owned or operated by the ASP from Jan. 1, 2023 to present, and all receipts, invoices, or similar documents related to any travel on ASP planes from Jan. 1, 2023 to present;
• All travel reimbursements for anyone flying on an ASP plane from Jan. 1, 2023 to present;
• All flight manifests and passenger lists for any flights on ASP planes from Jan. 1, 2023 to present;
• All records related to any ASP expenditures incurred in sending any ASP personnel to Europe in 2023;
• All records related to any reimbursements made to ASP personnel for expenses incurred while in or traveling to Europe in 2023; and
• All documentation regarding airline tickets and hotel rooms purchased as part of ASP personnel travel to or from Europe in 2023.

According to Campbell’s filing, ASP attorney Jesi Feld and ASP Chief Counsel Joan Shipley denied many requests, saying such responses were unconstitutional and would violate the safety of Gov. Sanders and her family. (Link here for a PDF of the filed complaint.)

“After a review of any documents that might be responsive to your request below, we are denying your FOIA request due to security concerns based on the [ASP’s] statutory obligation under ACA 12-8-108, as we did in an earlier request that you made which included this same information,” Shipley noted in an Aug. 29 e-mail to Campbell.

According to Campbell, after repeated attempts he made, the ASP provided more than 200 pages of documents. But Campbell alleges the documents did not include all information initially requested.

“However, these emails contained multiple illegal redactions of the names of other passengers who flew on ASP planes with the Governor,” Campbell noted in the filing.

Campbell provided the following statement to Talk Business & Politics: “The Arkansas State Police have chosen to ignore the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act in an effort to protect the Governor from accountability and transparency. Worse still, they are lying about the reason for withholding the records, claiming that it would endanger the Governor’s ‘safety’ for people to know who she traveled with months ago or how much ASP spent to send multiple officers with Sanders to England and France.

“Not only is that argument absurd for multiple reasons – for instance, they have provided information regarding her actual travels and are just balking at the names of other passengers – it is also irrelevant, as the AFOIA does not contain an exemption for whatever the ASP deems is a ‘safety’ issue. So, even under the best-case scenario, where someone believes their absurd ‘safety’ claims, ASP has still violated the AFOIA.

“At this point, I have to wonder what it is that Gov. Sanders and ASP want so badly to keep out of the public view.”

Alexa Henning, communications director for Gov. Sanders, provided this statement to the media: “It’s a new low in Arkansas politics for some on the radical left to weaponize FOIA and put the Governor’s and her family’s lives in danger.”