Governor Blunt says he will ask the legislature to change state law to allow a governor to use the State Highway Patrol to conduct background checks and other investigations into state employee conduct. The move is a direct outgrowth of the governor’s misuse of the State Highway Patrol to investigate workplace allegations levelled against State Agriculture Director Fred Ferrell. Blunt defends his decision, saying he needed to investigate what he calls “serious allegations” levelled against the workplace conduct of Ferrell. Blunt asked the Department of Public Safety to form a multi-agency team to investigate the charges, including members of the State Highway Patrol and State Water Patrol. Blunt since has acknowledged he broke state law by making such a request. He insists other administrations have used the patrol in like manner. State law prohibits the governor from ordering a member of the patrol to perform any duty or service not authorized by state statute. The Missourinet has made an Open Records request for documents relating to the Ferrell investigation. In a letter responding to the Missourinet’s request, an official with the Department of Public Safety states “that the Missouri Department of Public Safety does not have any documents, reports, or other materials related to or referring to this matter.” An official with the department later confirmed all documentation of the Ferrell investigation had been sent to the governor’s office. The Missourinet asked Blunt directly whether the documents would be made public. He says he considers them part of Ferrell’s personnel file and refuses to release them. Blunt has declined to disclose anything about the investigation, merely pointing out that Ferrell remains the State Agriculture Director. Blunt adds that he believes Ferrell is doing a very good job. Blunt says governors need a mechanism to investigate the background of people who will serve in government and the conduct of those who are serving in government.
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