Mayor's office withholding public information?
Story by Antwan Harris
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- The email war between Chattanooga's mayor and the local Tea Party has one group pursuing legal action against the city.
The city claims they have been open about the entire exchange and is sticking by that statement.
We have obtained the missing emails, all with government addresses, that many are arguing should have been included in the open records request.
The email war between Mayor Ron Littlefield and Tea Party leader Mark West has been revealed in its entirety.
This comes after an open records request by members of the media, the mayor recall group and council member Andrae McGary was granted, but no one received the complete email exchange.
"I believe every citizen expects what they ask for and if I ask for all correspondence then that's what I expected. When I don't get that, I get concerned," says Councilman Andrae McGary.
Within the full exchange later released by Chattanooga Tea Party leader Mark West, Littlefield referred to the recall efforts as a roll call for the lunatic fringe for the city.
It was language like this that deterred West from meeting with the mayor when the recall effort was established.
"The initial email was very harsh, accusatory and demanding. Many of the statements in the email were false," says West.
Councilman Jack Benson says to his knowledge, the city hasn't withheld any information.
"Our internet services is to give out everything that was sent or with his name. He even told them not to redact anything," says Benson.
The missing emails were from city email addresses.
The group looking to recall the mayor is now pursuing legal action against the city claiming they purposely withheld information.
A mayor's spokesperson says this is a tactic to smear the public's image of local government.
"It has been exploited for reasons I don't understand and it has nothing to do with city business at all," says City Spokesman Richard Beeland.
We are told in order for the city to be investigated for violation involving government matters, it must go through the district attorney's office.
The mayor filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block the recall efforts.
Lawyers from both sides have had a closed door hearing on the recall.