A national expert on governmental openness says the investigation into the Blunt Administration’s handling of electronic correspondence is as frustrating as it is informative.
National Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Charles Davis has been poring over the 46-page report on the investigation of how the Blunt Administration handled e-mail correspondence.
He calls it "a frustrating read".
Davis says the document shows that clearly there were violations of both the state record retention law and the Sunshine Law, the open records law. It’s frustrating, according to Davis, because nothing can be done about it.
The report, according to Davis, demonstrates clearly that the actions of Blunt’s office were completely insufficient to comply with the law. He says it is clear that hundreds of e-mails subject to the Sunshine Law were not released to reporters who made requests of the office. They would not have been released if it weren’t for the investigation says Davis.
Davis, an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, says he gets the sense that the Blunt Administration considered the Sunshine Law a hassle, something to be deal with like the flu or the common cold. Davis suggests that state lawmakers consider the contents of the report, because it discloses weaknesses in state law that should be addressed. Ultimately, Davis hopes the investigation leads to better compliance with the Sunshine Law overall in state government.
The report was filed by special investigators Mel Fisher and Rick Wilhoit, appointed by former Attorney General Jay Nixon to investigate how the Blunt Administration handled e-mails. Nixon says he appointed the two to conduct an independent investigation after receiving complaints that the governor’s office failed to comply with the Sunshine Law. The investigation began when it appeared Nixon would challenge Matt Blunt’s re-election bid. Blunt, though, announced he would not seek re-election. Still, charges that the investigation was politically motivated never ceased.