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Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Missouri E-Mail Soap Opera: Chapter...Well, Who Knows?

Under investigation for alleged Sunshine Law violations, Gov. Matt Blunt's administration is retaliating with its own use of Missouri's open-records law.

When attorney general's investigators sought records from Blunt, he responded likewise. When Blunt was sued for those records, he renewed his own Sunshine Law demands. And when a lawmaker spoke poorly of the governor, Blunt's team quickly slapped him with an open-records request.

Blunt's point is that others are playing politics with the Sunshine Law. To any critic who questions his Sunshine Law compliance, Blunt is essentially saying: Put your records where your mouth is.

But several Sunshine Law experts, who track open-records disputes around the nation, describe Blunt's actions as both troubling and unusual.

"They're responding to an investigation in the executive office of the state of Missouri by sort of using public-records laws to create their own investigative powers, and I think that's a pretty inappropriate use of public records laws," said Charles Davis, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, based at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

More here.

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