Former UCA President Allen Meadors Sees Fine Shrunk Down to Price of Traffic Ticket

In the opinion of your Whispers staff, admitting to a violation of the sacred Arkansas Freedom of Information Act is a very bad and shameful thing.

But our legal advisory council assures us that the deal defense attorney Tim Dudley wrangled for former University of Central Arkansas President Allen Meadors last week in Faulkner County Circuit Court was actually an impressive piece of lawyering.

You see, tampering with a public record — the original Class A misdemeanor with which Meadors was charged — is a moral turpitude offense that could come back to haunt. But pleading guilty to violating the FOI, a Class C misdemeanor, is about like pleading guilty to a traffic ticket and only cost a little more — a $250 fine and $150 in court costs.

Of course, the facts alleged against Meadors — that he instructed a subordinate to destroy a letter in which food service provider Aramark offered $700,000 to renovate the president’s residence in exchange for an extension of its contract with UCA after an FOI request from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette — fit the original charge much better. UCA complied with the FOI request on the very day it was submitted in August 2011, the Democrat-Gazette reported.

The deal with Aramark cost Meadors his job, of course. But he’s still collecting, through the end of this year, a $337,500 buyout paid with private funds.

That is fortunate, because Tim Dudley is an expensive lawyer for the equivalent of a traffic ticket.