An Indiana woman is suing Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry for not complying with her public records requests seeking information on his travel and vehicle purchases, contracts with lawyers and law firms, and correspondence with oil and gas interests.
Scarlett A. Martin, of Indianapolis, claims it's been nearly six months since she asked for the documents and nearly three months since she paid $250 to the Attorney General's Office for the records.
"Ms. Martin is doing research, and her request for public documents has been delayed for over 175 days," Martin's attorney, Chris Whittington, said Wednesday when asked what was driving the records requests. "She never dreamed that she would have to file a lawsuit to obtain possession of documents that are clearly open to the public."
Landry's press secretary, Ruth Wisher, said the Attorney General's Office has been inundated by more than 200 public records requests since he took office in January 2016 but has not received notice of any suit filed by Martin.
"We can only hope it is not a political witch hunt distracting from the important work of our office," she said.
Martin filed a pair of public records requests Sept. 30.
One asked for all correspondence between Landry or any member of his office and "any representatives of companies (and/or trade associations representing such companies) involved in the exploration for and production of hydrocarbons."
The request mentions by name Chester Cedars, an attorney for Landry, and Kyle Ruckert, a former top aide to ex-Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter. Ruckert ran a super political action committee called Make Louisiana Great.
A copy of the suit was sent to Ruckert by The Advocate, but he did not respond to it.
In her other Sept. 30 records request, Martin sought a broad range of documents related to Landry's travel to conferences, speaking engagements and public appearances as the state's chief prosecutor, including records for travel, lodging and meals.
She also requested records "showing all contracts awarded to attorneys and/or law firms … to represent the state and any state entities in litigation," and documents regarding vehicles bought by Landry's office.
Martin expanded that public records request on Oct. 17 to include contracts and correspondence for legal representation that have been reviewed by the Attorney General's Office since Jan. 11, 2016.
"To date, Attorney General Landry's office has not produced a single document, record, contract, email, calendar entry or piece of correspondence. Not one." Whittington said.
The lawsuit alleges Martin has received only excuses as to why the documents haven't been produced.
The suit, filed Friday in Baton Rouge state court, seeks production of the records as well as attorney fees, costs, damages and civil penalties.
The case has been assigned to state District Judge William Morvant.