Supervisor Ally Miller has presented a bill to news agencies looking into whether a staffer who recently resigned was involved in the creation of a short-lived and dubious news site.
Miller took to Facebook recently to complain about the thousands of pages of public records she reviewed personally, and now wants the media to pay for them. The Arizona Daily Star is among the news agencies that are seeking the emails about the creation of the Arizona Daily Herald.
On Wednesday, the Star received a $1,171.80 bill for the 3,348 pages of e-mails Miller says she reviewed. The Tucson Sentinel received a similar bill.
Miller is "late to the party" when it comes to trying to intimidate reporters by proposing outrageous fees for public documents, says Dan Barr, a First Amendment attorney in Phoenix.
Under Arizona law, the emails should be provided in their original format —electronically — which should significantly reduce the cost of the public records, he notes.
Barr also questions why Miller is involved in reviewing the emails rather than having it done by county staff trained in public records law who don't have a personal interest in what information is released.
"They are public records, not Ally Miller's records," Barr said.
Miller has denied that she or the former staffer, Timothy DesJarlais, have any connections to a man claiming to be Jim Falken, who identified himself as editor-in-chief of the Arizona Daily Herald. That person claimed to be a journalist and asked Miller's political challengers about her road plan. The site was taken down and the person claiming to be Falken has gone silent.
The Star and other news organizations have requested records from Miller in an attempt to report the issue.
The issue is reportedly being investigated by the sheriff and county attorney's office.
Miller and DesJarlais have reportedly filed a complaint with the FBI’s cyber-crimes unit, saying someone is attempting to disrupt operations in her office.