The Missouri attorney general's office sent a message to media outlets Monday emphasizing that e-mails on the state system are public records and often should be preserved.
The office was reacting to reports that Gov. Matt Blunt's staff routinely purges e-mails and does not consider them public records.
James Klahr, the attorney general's lead lawyer on Missouri's open-records "Sunshine Law," sent the message to dismiss the "unnecessary debate" over the issue.
The message does not mention Blunt but declares, "There should be no debate — e-mail communications are public records."
And how about this amazing line?
Topics that are not typically hot-button election talk — the Sunshine Law and the protection of records — may emerge as key issues in the governor's race.
Klahr's message to newspapers and TV and radio stations says "we will be redoubling our education efforts to ensure members of the public and government officials" understand how the Sunshine Law applies to e-mails.
A spokesman for Nixon said the office will send media outlets copies of the law, which details the public's access to government documents and meetings.
State law gives the attorney general, local prosecutors and the public the power to sue over Sunshine Law violations. "Enforcement of violations of the record retention law depend on the nature and content of the e-mails or documents and the circumstances surrounding their destruction," said the spokesman, John Fougere.
Blunt's office on Monday declined to comment.