By Jesse Wood
Sept. 3, 2014. Minutes before the Watauga County Board of Elections meeting on Tuesday afternoon, a deputy with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office delivered a summons to BOE Member Kathleen Campbell. The complaint was filed Aug. 29.
Nathan Miller, an attorney and chair of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, has filed a lawsuit against Campbell “because Ms. Campbell believes she is above the law and is not required to release public documents,” Miller said in an email on Wednesday afternoon.
“I am simply asking a judge to remind Ms. Campbell that she is not above the law and she must follow the law like the rest of State and local government,” Miller continued. “I have given Ms. Campbell a reasonable amount of time to respond to my request and the only the response I got was the illogical response that she is not the keeper of her own emails and other documents in her sole possession. This argument is not grounded in state law and I expect a Superior Court Judge will order all the requested documents to be immediately produced.”
According to seven-page complaint that includes exhibits, Miller made a public records request to Campbell on July 24, 2014, in person at the Watauga County Board of Elections office regarding “various documents that [Campbell] utilized to make her comparisons that she used in a public meeting on July 32, emails between her and various individuals, her actual written statement read aloud on July 23, 2014, copies of the videos utilized at the July 23, 2014 meeting and other items.”
On Aug. 11, Miller sent a letter to Watauga County Attorney Four Eggers asking for the fulfillment of the record’s request. On Aug. 18, Miller notes in the court documents that Campbell sent Miller an email “stating that she was not the custodian of her own records and instead sought direction” from Watauga County Elections Director Jane Anne Hodges.
Miller states that he still hasn’t received the documents he requested.
The records were made pursuant to N.C. General Statutes, and Campbell is a public official. Miller is seeking a judicial order compelling Campbell to immediately turnover the requested documents.
“That should [Campbell] state said documents do not exist that the court either review [her] email accounts in camera or order a forensic review of [her] email accounts by a qualified information technologies specialist at the expense of the defendant,” the claim states. “That the costs of this action, including the plaintiff’s reasonable attorney’s fees, be taxed against the defendant pursuant [to state statue].”
On Wednesday, Campbell said she declined to comment until she speaks with counsel.
See entire claim here: Complaint Filed