South Fulton County

Fairburn city council member says city violated state law over records requests

FAIRBURN, Ga. — A Fairburn woman asked for a series of city records related to the police department but was told she would have to file Georgia Open Records Act requests.

That would be normal procedure, except that Samantha Hudson is an elected city council member who requested the documents as part of her duties as a leader of the city.

“It’s in violation of Georgia law. And I’m asking that they stop,” Hudson told Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Justin Gray.

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Hudson took her seat on Fairburn city council at the start of the year and asked for some basic documents including the police training manual, reporting structure, standard operating procedures, and any recent complaints filed against the department.

“I saw some concerns, and I just wanted to know, how did we get there?” Hudson said.

But Fairburn City Administrator Tony Phillips refused to fulfill the requests, writing Hudson in an email that they were “more appropriately processed as an Open Records Act request.”

“I thought that was ludicrous and that was out of order,” Hudson said.

“She’s not asking in her capacity as just anybody. She was elected by the people to govern the city. She’s a trustee,” Hudson’s attorney Joy Ramsingh said.

Hudson hired Ramsingh to send a legal letter to the city warning that she believes city officials are violating Georgia law by not providing an elected leader access to city records.

“We should all be able to agree that it is unacceptable for an elected council member to ask for information and be denied by the staff that serves at the pleasure of the City Council,” Ramsingh said.


The City of Fairburn told Channel 2 Action News in a statement:

“The City of Fairburn has no interest or desire to prevent access to public records for any elected official that are necessary for the furtherance of their duties. Our City Attorney received a communication from Ms. Hudson’s attorney last week, provided an initial response within 2 business days, and their communications are ongoing.”

Hudson says it is impossible for her to vote on matters without having access to critical information.

“This information can help us. I’m not understanding why are they holding on to it? Why won’t you allow council members to have this information?” Hudson said.

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