A legal battle between the Attorney General and the Governor might soon resume at the Cole County Courthouse. The war of words about who is or who isn’t following state law regarding e-mail correspondence has never let up.
A lawsuit seeking e-mails from Governor Blunt’s office might soon have new life. Accusations by the governor’s office that politics motivates Attorney General Jay Nixon have never ceased. Blunt’s office has accused Nixon, a Democrat, of allowing politics to motivate his decision to appoint a special investigative team to review how the governor’s office handles electronic correspondence. Blunt is a Republican. The two were thought to be heading toward a showdown in the gubernatorial race this year until Blunt abruptly decided not to seek a second term.
A judge in Jefferson City dismissed the lawsuit on technical grounds. He has given Nixon ten days to decide how to proceed. The lawsuit is expected to be re-filed to answer the judge’s concerns.
Blunt spokesman Jessica Robinson points to a January 1st, 2008 memo to assert Nixon’s office hasn’t always followed state law. Robinson says no other documents provided to the governor’s office directly outlines the Attorney General’s policy on e-mail retention prior to that date.
"So, clearly the attorney general’s office had no specific e-mail retention policy at the time that he was actively attacking this office on the issue," Robinson says.
Nixon spokesman Scott Holste says the governor’s office is purposely distorting the issue. Holste claims that memo is simply one given to new employees to outline overall document retention policies.
"They clearly either don’t understand, or choose not to understand," Holste says, "This particular document formally communicates to employees of the Attorney General’s office how all documents are managed. It does not supersede the records retention policy, in any way, and that’s the policy that we have had and have followed for many, many years."
Holste says the Attorney General’s office strictly follows the e-mail retention policies outlined by the State Records Commission. Holste says the investigation of the governor’s e-mail retention policy in 2007 is being conducted independent of the office.