This is a classic case of elastic exemptions...
Cape Girardeau County will not provide any material requested in two Sunshine Law requests from the Southeast Missourian because much of the material relates to possible lawsuits, Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said Monday.
As part of the denial, Swingle declined also to release the names, rates of pay or reasons for hiring outside counsel for any litigation or providing legal advice. In declining that part of the request, Swingle wrote to the Southeast Missourian that it could jeopardize the attorneys' work product, information that is protected from disclosure by law.
The names and amounts the attorneys are paid will become public after their work is concluded, he said.
But a lawyer who advises the Missouri Press Association on the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, the official title of the Sunshine Law, said the names of lawyers under contract or on retainer are public records.
"That is open, absolutely," lawyer Jean Maneke said.
The Southeast Missourian made its first request for records April 25 as an article was being prepared about a closed meeting of the Cape Girardeau County Commission that dealt with attempts to discipline County Auditor David Ludwig. In the meeting, commissioners considered suspending Ludwig and, at one point, Ludwig was asked to resign. His attorney, Albert Lowes, has said the meeting dealt with Ludwig's accessing photos of actress Pamela Anderson on the Internet...
But wait! It gets better:
In an interview Monday morning, Swingle said he was advising the county to deny the requests because it related to a personnel matter. "Everything is related to litigation," Swingle said. "There is not a personnel matter that is not related to potential litigation."
Everything in the universe that is related to personnel is related to potential litigation. Wow...pretty much spells the end for scrutiny of public employees, eh?