The billing documents were only turned over after attorneys for Channel 2 threatened to sue. The media organizations were provided the text messages, which were sent on private cell phones, by the watershed spokeswoman last year after she left city employment.
Carr’s office filed a two-count charging document against Garland that quotes from those text messages. Both counts are misdemeanors carrying fines up to $1,000 each and a year in jail.
The first count relates to Garland telling the watershed official to "drag this out as long as possible" and "provide the information in the most confusing format available." The second count relates to Garland instructing the official to "hold all" responsive documents until the reporter asked for an update.
Garland’s attorney told the AJC earlier this week that Garland “acted in good faith at all times and did not violate any statutes.”
Carr declined to comment when asked about two other apparent sunshine law violations that became part of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe of the issue.
In one instance, Reed's communications director Anne Torres improperly sought to delay release of an employment contract for a newly hired cabinet official. In the other, former City Attorney Jeremy Berry responded to an AJC request for legal invoices with documents his office had created to mimic invoices but that were not authentic legal bills.
“We think it will send a message,” Carr said of the charges against Garland.
The AJC and Channel 2 Action News broke the story of how Mayor Kasim Reed’s former press secretary instructed another official to delay fulfilling a public records request in March 2018. The story prompted a criminal probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and led to charges against the press secretary early this week.