Missouri AG files lawsuits alleging Sunshine Law violations

Missouri AG files lawsuits alleging Sunshine Law violations

MISSOURI (KFVS) - Two Missouri counties will be hit with lawsuits alleging Sunshine Law violations filed by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

The first suit, filed in Jefferson County, alleges that a former Jefferson County Council Chair had a subordinate destroy e-mails containing billing statements related to an outside law firm hired by the County Council.

It also says the former County Council Chair told the assistant to refrain from releasing the e-mails if requested.

The second lawsuit, filed in St. Louis County, alleges a pattern of failing to adhere to the Sunshine Law on the part of the St. Louis County Executive's Office.

It alleges that in several instances, the County Executive's Office did not respond to requests. The lawsuit also alleges the Office, in some circumstances, failed to provide requested documents to journalists.

Under the Sunshine Law, a governmental body is required to appoint a "Custodian of Records" and disclose that person's identity upon request. The County Executive's Office allegedly gave varying answers as to who holds this position thereby preventing constituents and journalists from obtaining public information.

"Governmental transparency is a key tenet of democracy," Hawley said. "Missouri Sunshine Law exists so that Missourians can know that their government is working for them. Those who violate our State Open Records laws should recognize that on my watch, they will be prosecuted for violating this trust."

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