A Senate committee has been given 200,000 e-mails to read as it reviews why the Department of Natural Resources withheld a report on contamination at the Lake of the Ozarks.
DNR drug its feet on releasing a report that parts of the Lake of the Ozarks were contaminated with E-Coli in May.
"So, what normally is a 24 to 48 hour process, took nearly four weeks," Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, Brad Lager (R-Savannah) told committee members in a conference call meeting Friday morning.
Lager said DNR has been less than cooperative in the committee’s review of its action. Lager insists the committee isn’t investigating DNR, merely reviewing its methods to determine if law needs to be changed to protect public health. Lager, a Republican, says he doesn’t want it to appear that a Republican legislature is investigating a Democratic Administration. DNR is part of the executive branch of Gov. Nixon.
Sen. Joan Bray, a Democrat from St. Louis, told Lager that though he insists the committee isn’t investigating DNR that is how it appears.
"This has all of the aura of an investigation," Bray, a member of the committee, told Lager. "And that’s what’s bothering me."
While Bray is suspicious, Republican Senator Matt Bartle of Lee’s Summit said the committee must review DNR’s actions and consider whether state lawmakers need to change current policy.
"If the department wants to take this to Defcon 4 and make it look like it’s some sort of criminal investigation that’s there, I guess, their prerogative," Bartle said during the conference call.
For now, staff is review material provided by the DNR. The committee will likely meet in Jefferson City later. DNR has been accused of withholding the information about contamination, because the state worried about the impact on tourism.