|Updated: 12/20/2012 3:28 pm
||Published: 12/20/2012 3:18 pm
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The lawyer with whom Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has admitted an extramarital relationship was the opposing counsel in five cases since 2010 that were handled by the attorney general's office, a spokesman said Thursday.
McDaniel's office said Hot Springs attorney Andrea L. Davis was the opposing counsel in four cases in addition to a highly publicized school choice lawsuit the state lost. McDaniel, who has been married since 2009, on Tuesday admitted that he had an "inappropriate" relationship with Davis in 2011. McDaniel said he met her during his 2010 re-election bid.
McDaniel, a Democrat, is the only announced candidate for governor in 2014.
Thursday's statement shows that Davis' dealings with McDaniel's office went beyond the school choice case. Davis represented a group of parents who successfully challenged the law. McDaniel's office represents state education officials in that suit.
McDaniel's office has defended his office's handling of the school choice lawsuit and said he never talked with her about the case. Davis did not return calls Thursday morning.
"All of these cases were handled by senior and assistant attorneys general without direct involvement by the Attorney General," McDaniel spokesman Aaron Sadler said.
The other four cases included three before the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Examining Board involving a Hot Springs Village veterinarian and a deceptive trade practices lawsuit the state filed against the owner of a fish hatchery. The state prevailed in all three cases, Sadler said.
McDaniel did not tell the lawyers or clients involved in the cases that he knew Davis, Sadler said.
Sadler released the statement after McDaniel's office denied a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press for the attorney general's phone records, emails and daily schedules. In a letter turning down the request, Chief Deputy Attorney General Brad Phelps cited an exemption in the open records law for the attorney general's "unpublished memoranda, working papers and correspondence."
Sadler also said the attorney general's office was among law enforcement agencies sent an order by Garland County Circuit Court to assist in the return of Davis' children from New Jersey. The AG's special investigations division told Davis that the office could not assist her and referred her to law enforcement in New Jersey.
The custody dispute between Davis and her ex-husband was what ultimately prompted McDaniel to acknowledge the relationship. Davis' ex-husband in October alleged a sexual affair between Davis and McDaniel in an October court filing.
McDaniel's campaign has refused to detail the nature or extent of his relationship with Davis, but said he has no plans to drop out of the governor's race.
It's unclear whether McDaniel or Davis could face a complaint before a disciplinary panel. The state's professional conduct rules for attorneys says a conflict of interest exists if there's a significant risk that a client's representation will be "materially limited" by a personal interest of the lawyer.
Lawyers who violate the conduct rules can face sanctions that include law license suspension and disbarment.
Sadler also said McDaniel never discussed with Davis the investigation over the death of a man found fatally shot outside her home. Davis was questioned by police in Maxwell Anderson's February death.
An initial report by the Garland County Sheriff's Office lists Davis' brother, Matthew Davis, as a "suspect" who was present at the scene. State police, who have taken over the investigation, wouldn't discuss whether they have any suspects. The AG's office has no jurisdiction or role in the investigation, Sadler said.
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