Lovettsville Town Office

Lovettsville Town Hall.

A Lovettsville resident has filed a complaint in Loudoun County General District Court against the town, alleging town officials violated the law by failing to fulfill a public records request.

The complaint, filed Nov. 17 on behalf of Caitlin Keefe, names Mayor Nathaniel Fontaine, Town Clerk Candi Choi and former interim town manager Samuel Finz, saying the town failed to produce records sought in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by Keefe.

According to Keefe’s attorney, Andrew Bodoh of Richmond-based Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, Keefe asks that the town provide the requested records and seeks an injunction to prohibit the town from disregarding the FOIA request based on a citizen exercising their First Amendment rights.

The FOIA request was submitted to Choi and Finz on August 30, 2021. It requested a copy of a Facebook post made by Town Councilwoman Renee Edmonston, which included a survey and comments that were made in a closed Facebook group, according to the complaint.

Choi, the town clerk, responded on August 31, asking for a deposit of $115 for the FOIA. However, according to Virginia’s FOIA law, a deposit is not required when such an estimate is under $200, the complaint states.

After Keefe responded and confirmed the request for a deposit, she told the town that she would be forwarding the email exchange to the Virginia FOIA Advisory Council, an organization which works to ensure compliance of FOIA.

According to the complaint, Choi responded by email, “Due to your threat to take this up with the FOIA Board, the Town will no longer address your emails regarding FOIA requests.”

In addition to the documents requested in the FOIA filing, Keefe is seeking attorney fees and fines for Choi and Samuelson.

Neither Fontaine, Choi, or Jason Cournoyer, the current town manager, responded to request for comment.

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