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Little Rock mayor casts vote amid Freedom of Information Act scandal

The mayor casts his vote in the upcoming city election, afterward, he avoids questions from reporters about missing public documents.
Josie Lenore
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. casting his ballot at Dee Brown Library ahead of next week's election.

Early voting continues through Monday in Arkansas, ahead of Election Day on Tuesday. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. cast his early ballot Wednesday at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Dee Brown Library.

It comes as legal motions continue being filed in a lawsuit against the city regarding documents that Deputy City Attorney Alan Jones has acknowledged the city has not turned over, but should. The lawsuit was filed in September by attorney Matthew Campbell, publisher of the Blue Hog Report.

At a meeting Tuesday of the Little Rock Board of Director, City Manager Bruce Moore confirmed rumors that Mayor Scott had instructed a city department head to withhold a document that should be available. City Director Capi Peck walked through a timeline of events preceding the controversy while expressing her dismay and confusion.

“I just cannot imagine what could be so controversial about a two-plus-year-old document from the planning department,” Peck said. “I mean I’m just flabbergasted”

At the library on Wednesday, Scott said the city is working to accommodate the FOIA requests. He also noted Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley is looking into the matter.

“Number one, prosecutor Jegley has issued some statements to our city attorney. The city attorney operates the Freedom of Information office,” Scott said. “He has been working hard with the city attorney’s office to get everything out to everyone. I have no comment. I am not involved in that process.”

In a letter to City Attorney Tom Carpenter, Jegley wrote that he has “had about enough of this nonsense with Little Rock City Hall and the Freedom of Information Act.” The controversy has been part of a larger problem with the city being slow or denying some requests for public documents.

In a motion Tuesday, Jones asked a judge to add public affairs firm Think Rubix as a defendant to the lawsuit, according to a report in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The company was involved in organizing LITFest, a music and cultural event that was to take place last month, but ended up being cancelled with Carpenter saying he had "serious legal concerns" about how the event had been planned.

The city has filed a motion for Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chip Welch to stay part of an order he issued last week demanding the city turn over requested documents at least every two days.

Voter Intimidation

The southwest Little Rock polling location where Scott voted Wednesday is where tensions became heated last Friday between supporters of Scott and challenger Steve Landers. Another mayoral candidate, Greg Henderson, told KUAR News he witnessed a gun being flashed and worked with Scott's supporters to deescalate the situation.

Mayor Scott said after voting he’s glad the incident did not lead to violence. A police report was not filed.

“It’s heartbreaking that this happened. I want to say thank you to one of my opponents, Greg Henderson, who was here to see it in action and helped to deescalate alongside other supporters of mine,” Scott said. “But voter intimidation is very important irrespective of this election.”

Landers said in a statement Friday that he was made aware of the altercation and suggested that Scott’s supporters were the ones being antagonistic. Landers also said guns have no place at polling locations.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.