Yesterday, Matt Campbell shut down his left-leaning blog, Blue Hog Report, after the Republican Party of Arkansas (RPA) filed a series of FOI requests related to Campbell's work as a state employee.
RPA Executive Director Chase Duggar made the FOI requests to the Office of Criminal Justice Coordinator, where Campbell currently works as staff attorney, and to the Pulaski County public defender's office, where Campbell worked as an investigator from 2006 to 2009. Duggar asked for copies of Campbell's work and personal emails, work phone and cell phone records, travel records, expenses, state vehicle usage, and other records.
Duggar also sent an FOI request about Jeff Woodmansee, who works as an IT specialist at the William H. Bowen School of Law Library in the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Woodmansee co-operates the blog with Campbell and writes posts infrequently on the site.
Campbell has been a thorn in the side of Arkansas Republicans for over a year, with Secretary of State Mark Martin, State Rep. Justin Harris, and State Rep. David Meeks among his favorite targets. But his blogging has become more damaging for Republicans in recent months, with a series of posts focusing on alleged misdeeds within Martin's office. Among other things, Campbell has written posts about the office's reticence to fulfill FOI requests; its spokesperson, Alice Stewart, appearing as a partisan speaker in various venues; and evidence that Martin and chief deputy Doug Matayo have used state-owned vehicles on personal trips.
RPA spokesperson Katherine Vasilos called Campbell's work "remarkably partisan" and said the party wants to make sure he is not blogging while on the state dime. Duggar told The Tolbert Report that the FOI requests had nothing to do with Campbell's anti-Republican posts and that if the party had discovered conservative bloggers on the state payroll, it would have investigated them in the same way.
As of late yesterday afternoon, the Blue Hog Report website, Facebook page, and Twitter page had all been taken off-line. Campbell has not indicated whether he plans to reinstate the pages.