In the ongoing attempt to settle an open records lawsuit against JAUNT, Inc, a publicly funded regional transportation provider, Rob Schilling and his attorney, Matthew Hardin, may have reached an impasse.
Schilling is seeking details regarding irregular spending at JAUNT, particularly travel expenses incurred by former CEO, Brad Sheffield— who was asked to resign his position at JAUNT within days of an exclusive Schilling Show report on the topic.
Following a statement favorable to Schilling’s position issued by judge Matthew Quatrara, JAUNT has appeared anxious to “settle” the case. Mounting legal fees and recent coverage of the story by Charlottesville Tomorrow, may have turned up the “heat.”
However, in a March 31 email to attorney Hardin regarding a proposed settlement agreement, JAUNT’s counsel attempted to strong-arm Schilling by threatening to provide the information he requested, first to another party (presumably Charlottesville Tomorrow), if Schilling did not agree to JAUNT’s terms:
As discussed, please find Jaunt’s proposed settlement agreement. There should not be any surprises in here but please let us know if there are any provisions you’d like to discuss. As it is relevant to the settlement agreement, Jaunt’s estimated costs to comb its records and reproduce the responsive documents is approximately $500.
We understand that Jaunt has received a separate request for the same documents requested by Mr. Schilling. It plans to produce the documents in response to that request but would like to provide the documents to Mr. Schilling first, as a courtesy for being first in line. If you could please review the attached with your client as quickly as possible that would be greatly appreciated. If these settlement negotiations drag out too long, Jaunt may not be able to hold off on releasing the documents to the other requesting party.
Let us know if you’d like to get on the phone to discuss. We look forward to bringing this matter to an end.
The proposed agreement contained objectionable clauses, including:
- JAUNT denies their post-settlement obligation to be bound by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
- JAUNT insisted on a gag order regarding dissemination of certain information pertaining to the case against them
The outstanding question is: Will JAUNT provide records refused to the Schilling Show, instead, first to Charlottesville Tomorrow, out of spite?
As settlement negotiations continue, Schilling remains resolute that JAUNT must commit to complete transparency in their operations and public accountability for their actions.