County attorney Brock charged with open records violation
The Iowa Public Information Board charged Washington County Attorney Larry Brock with a violation of Iowa Code Section 22.2, according to official IPIB documents, May 30.
Brock has been charged with Failure to Provide Open Records. A contested case hearing will be held before the IPIB at noon July 10 at the Wallace Building in Des Moines.
The charge stems from a request for documents from Bob Bellmer, who was dismissed from his job as park ranger on Jan. 27 by the Washington County Conservation Board. The IPIB document of May 30 states that Brock advised the board during the board meeting.
Bellmer submitted a request to Brock for copies of all correspondence, including electronic mail, between members of the conservation board and Brock from Nov. 1, 2013, to March 1, 2014. The IPIB document states that the request for the correspondence was pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 22, and that the correspondence was never provided.
The IPIB document includes a timeline. The timeline states that Bellmer wrote a letter to Brock seeking the correspondence on March 3 and that Brock received the letter on March 3. On March 20, Bellmer sent an email to Brock asking for the correspondence again. Brock did not respond.
Bellmer filed a complaint to the IPIB on April 5. Margaret Johnson, the IPIB deputy director, emailed Brock on April 15, 2014, notifying Brock of the complaint filed against him. Brock did not respond to her email.
Brock did send an email to Johnson on April 18, stating that he was out of the office preparing for a trial the next week. Brock was concerned the documents requested by Bellmer were privileged. Later in that day, Johnson noted that six weeks had passed since Bellmer made the request.
Johnson emailed Brock on April 23, about his concerns about privilege, along with a copy of a court opinion, but Brock did not respond.
On May 15, the IPIB accepted Bellmer’s complaint. Johnson emailed Brock to notify him that the complaint was approved. The email gave Brock until May 27, to seek an informal resolution. Brock did not reply.
According to the timeline, if Brock is found in violation of Iowa Code Section 22.2, he could owe statutory damages of up to $500, and reasonable attorney fees. If he is found to have knowingly violated Iowa Code Section 22.2, Brock could owe statutory damages up to $2,500 and reasonable attorney fees.
According to the IPIB Notice of Hearing, Brock is required to respond to the petition he was served with within 20 days of the date he received the petition, including filing an answer to the charges.