Mayor Kasim Reed's spokesperson cited for violating Open Records Act

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The state attorney general has filed criminal citations against the spokesperson for former Mayor Kasim Reed.

This is the latest criminal case involving former Mayor Kasim Reed's administration.

His onetime spokesperson is now facing misdemeanor criminal citations for violating the Georgia Open Records Act.

FOX 5 Senior I-Team reporter Dale Russell says this is the first time a criminal Open Records violation case has been made.

“A criminal finding. I don't think that's ever happened before,” said Councilman Howard Shook.

Shook says the latest criminal investigation at Atlanta city hall has sent a message to all employees.

“Everyone who has the responsibility to deal with Open Records requests better be paying attention to this,” said Shook.

He is referring to the criminal action taken by the state Attorney General against former Mayor Kasim Reed's spokesperson, Jenna Garland.

Attorney General Chris Carr filed these two citations against Jenna Garland. Violating the Open Records Act is a misdemeanor.

The citations relate to a text exchange, obtained by the FOX 5 I-team, between Garland and a city Watershed Department employee.

The texts were in response to an Open Records request for water bills by another Atlanta area TV station which first aired the story.

In them, Garland instructed the employee "to be as unhelpful as possible" and to "drag this out as long as possible."

Then later, to "hold all" documents responsive to the request until there was a request for an update.

Sara Henderson, Director of good government group Common Cause, says she heard story after story of Jenna Garland and others in Mayor Reed's communications staff thwarting journalists’ efforts to obtain documents through the Georgia Open Records Act.

Russell: Do you believe she was doing what her boss wanted her to do?

Reed: Absolutely she was doing what the boss told her to do.

We asked Mayor Kasim Reed for comment through his Twitter account and got no response.

Battles over open records were commonplace under Mayor Reed's administration. Though the law says the city should respond to an open records request in 3 days, we once had to wait 8 months for then chief of staff - Candace Byrd's travel and credit card records. 

We had to get State Attorney General to mediate and they found the city "failed to comply with either the spirit or letter of the Open Records Act."

The city attorney promised the credit card records by September 30th. He didn't turn them over. We didn't get the records until we told Mayor Reed's personal attorney we were prepared to sue.

“It's horrible. It's horrible. What a gigantic waste of taxpayers’ money, time resources, all of that. 8 months. Absolutely horrible,” said Henderson.

Garland is the fourth top staffer in Mayor Reed’s administration to be charged with a crime. She is the first to be charged with a misdemeanor.