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Arkansas judge throws out Republican bid for access to Beebe appointment records

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A Pulaski County circuit judge rejected an effort by Arkansas Republicans to force Gov. Mike Beebe to disclose documents they say are public.

Judge Mary McGowan tossed out the GOP's Freedom of Information lawsuit earlier this week, agreeing with the Democratic governor that the records fall under an exemption in state law, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/1u4kntn ).

The GOP filed the lawsuit in December after it was denied access to application documents that Beebe receives from boards and commissions appointments. The governor is responsible for appointments to about 300 groups.

Megan Tollett, the GOP's executive director, said the political organization will ask the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn the decision.

"We feel the judge did not correctly interpret the law to allow public access to public documents," Tollett said.

Stacey Hall, a spokeswoman with Beebe's office, said in an email that McGowan's ruling didn't surprise the governor.

"Further appeals are just part of the process," she said.

The Arkansas attorney general's office represented Beebe in the lawsuit. Joe Cordi, senior assistant to the state attorney general, argued the papers sought by Republicans fall under an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act that allows the governor to withhold "unpublished memoranda, working papers and correspondence" from public disclosure.

He said the governor asks potential appointees to submit information about their personal and professional lives that could be embarrassing if publicly disclosed.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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