Greenville Attorney Says Sheriff Charges Too Much For Public Information

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A Greenville attorney said he’s being charged hundreds of dollars for public information by the Greenville County Sheriff.

Dan Farnsworth Jr. said his criminal defense work sometimes required information about arresting officers.  Documents included in Internal Affairs Investigations and personnel files would be available under South Carolina law.

Farnsworth showed WSPA several letters from the sheriff’s office requesting payment for those items.

In one, sheriff’s office spokesperson Lt. Ty Miller wrote the personnel records of four deputies would cost $400.  In another, a sheriff’s office major told Farnsworth the office would “not proceed with processing any further FOIA requests” until the balance of previous requests was paid.

Under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIA) “the public body may establish and collect fees not to exceed the actual cost of searching for or making copies of records.”

In recent months, FOIA requests filed by WSPA required fees similar to those Farnsworth encountered.  One, requesting personnel records for a now-former Greenville County Deputy, also cost $100.  The same per-file rate charged to Farnsworth.

“They’re a government agency that’s run through tax dollars and if someone’s concerned about how the place is being run they’re supposed to get records,” Farnsworth said.

A spokesperson for Sheriff Loftis said the sheriff was not in the office Monday and was unable to answer questions about the fees.

Farnsworth said he would be willing to pay the cost if the sheriff would simply explain how he reached the number provided.


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