Is there any communication between Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and his staff?
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron sent a total of 11 emails to his senior staff from January 2022 to July 2023, and he didn’t send a single text message to any of them during that same period, according to an open records request of the Republican official’s communications with top aides.
It is possible that there is a logical reason for the lack of communication between Cameron, the current GOP nominee for Kentucky governor, and his staff.
However, his office consistently declines to provide any information about the current situation.
HuffPost acquired copies of documents containing Cameron’s interactions with eight staff members from the Executive Office of the Kentucky Attorney General. These records were initially obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, not made by HuffPost. The request specifically sought copies of Cameron’s communications through his public accounts and devices, encompassing emails, email attachments, calendar invites, text messages, and discussions with senior staff on messaging platforms like Slack or GChat.
Cameron’s records indicate that he sent two emails to senior staff members in 2022 and nine emails during the first half of 2023. However, all nine of these emails were merely Cameron’s declaration of abstaining from specific cases. There is no available information regarding Cameron’s text messages or messaging platforms.
The FOIA office mentions in its letter that there is no evidence of Cameron’s communication with certain senior staff members throughout that period of time, and it provides the names of those individuals. Additionally, the FOIA office explains the reasons for withholding specific emails, which primarily pertain to drafts of public speeches.
Surely Cameron is regularly communicating with his top aides. It could be that he’s using a personal phone and a personal email account for official business, which would raise questions about transparency into what the Kentucky attorney general is saying and doing on the job. It could also be that Cameron sits in close physical proximity to his senior staff in the state Capitol and simply walks over and talks to them.
Could it be possible that Cameron does not actually communicate with his staff?
Last month, HuffPost submitted all of the records obtained through FOIA to Cameron’s office and inquired about the limited communication between him and eight of his key aides.
Initially, HuffPost’s inquiry was ignored by his office. Therefore, we decided to follow up after a week. However, we had to wait for another week until a spokesperson responded with an unattributed statement.
Daniel Cameron, the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the Commonwealth, is dedicated to safeguarding the rights of the people of Kentucky, combatting the drug crisis, and advocating for those who cannot speak for themselves. Attorney General Cameron consistently engages with his senior team to tirelessly address and limit the harmful directives and excessive actions imposed by the Biden and Beshear Administrations.
The reason for Cameron’s lack of communication with senior staff, as suggested by public records, was not addressed by the office. HuffPost asked the same question again over two weeks ago, but received no response.
Amye Bensenhaver, a former Kentucky assistant attorney general who specialized in open records and open meetings opinions for 25 years, said Cameron is known for his “disdain for the principles of open government,” a topic she wrote about in a June opinion article in the Lexington Herald Leader.
“I am uncertain about the situation, but they are intentionally making things unclear,” she commented about Cameron’s office. “It is illogical to have such a small number of emails exchanged between the attorney general and his executive staff, unless they are constantly together.”
Bensenhaver, who is a founding member of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition, said the weird situation with Cameron’s record of communications is part of a much bigger issue being hashed out in the state. Her coalition is in the middle of a lawsuit in a Kentucky court of appeals aimed at requiring government officials to publicly disclose any public business they conduct on private devices or accounts. It is currently not required.
The lawsuit began in a state district court in 2021 and was filed after Cameron issued a legal opinion in July of that year stating that “when no public funds have been spent to procure the cell phone services, then a public agency does not ‘own’ the text messages.”
According to Bensenhaver, the limited amount of public records regarding Cameron’s interactions with staff is partly due to the wording of the information request. It should have been more comprehensive, encompassing private accounts and devices.
“They will provide minimal information rather than maximum information,” she stated. “They might just mention that he utilizes a private account to evade scrutiny or due to a 2021 opinion stating that those are not considered public communications. Ultimately, this would have been their chance to clarify, but they chose not to.”
HuffPost first spoke to Bensenhaver in July for another story about Cameron and public records. That piece was about the Republican attorney general refusing to explain why open records showed that Cameron He had not utilized his key fob or any other form of security card. to get into the Capitol, where his office is, for the last three years. Bensenhaver said she sees the two stories as bookends to the same concerning problem.
“I find it quite revealing how dismissive they are,” she commented on Cameron’s office. “This is not merely a narrative about key fobs or emails; it is a narrative about evasiveness and lack of responsibility. And now he aspires to become governor.”