Group sues Arkansas attorney general for not approving government records ballot measure

(Flyer photo/File)

An Arkansas group trying to make access to public documents and meetings a constitutionally protected right sued the state’s attorney attorney general on Tuesday for rejecting the language of their proposed ballot measure.

Arkansas Citizens for Transparency asked the state Supreme Court in a 14-page filing to order Attorney General Tim Griffin to either approve the language of their proposal or substitute it with more suitable language.

Griffin’s approval is needed before the group can begin gathering the 90,704 signatures from registered voters required to qualify. The group faces a July 5 deadline to turn in signatures to get their proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

The group argued that Griffin overstepped his authority in rejecting the measure, saying under law he either must approve the measure’s language or substitute language.

“The attorney general’s rejection of the ballot title and popular name demonstrates that he has either a complete lack of understanding of his role in the initiative process or he is intentionally thwarting the effort of the petitioner to get this amendment approved for the ballot so that the voters of the state can decide its merits,” the group said in its filing.

Griffin in December rejected the wording of the proposed ballot measure, citing a “lack of clarity” on key terms in the measure. Griffin in January rejected four revised versions of the measure the group had submitted, saying they failed to resolve the problems he cited earlier.

“I am confident in our review and analysis of ballot submissions and look forward to the Arkansas Supreme Court’s review in this case,” the Republican attorney general said in a statement released by his office.

The ballot measure campaign was formed after Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law restricting the release of records about her travel and security. Sanders had initially proposed broader exemptions limiting the public’s access to records about her administration, but that proposal faced a backlash that included media groups and some conservatives.