Telephone Records and FOIA
Checking out something I had seen on a SportsCenter crawl about University of Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt, I came across this odd bit of information:
In an open letter on school stationery, released Tuesday, Nutt denied various rumors on the Internet that questioned his handling of prized recruit Mitch Mustain, allege that he chased higher-profile jobs and claim that he was having an extramarital affair.
The letter came after Nutt’s critics obtained copies of his cell phone records in an effort to gather information that could cost Nutt his job.
In the letter, Nutt denied having an affair with local television anchor Donna Bragg. Fans had used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain Nutt’s phone records showing he exchanged 1,063 text messages with Bragg between Nov. 30 and Jan. 11, including once just 19 minutes before the start of the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1.
While I grant that Nutt is a state employee, why are his telephone records subject to FOIA requests? Subpoena and oversight by appropriate university and state officials, absolutely. But curious journalists and random schmoes off the street?!