Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt’s demands that the state pay $540,000 to access his office’s e-mail records — government records covered under the state’s Sunshine Law — show his complete disregard for public access to information and clearly attempts to derail the state’s investigation into whether his office illegally deleted e-mails messages.
The state attorney general asked to see e-mail records dating back to Jan. 1, 2007, to determine whether Blunt’s office was wrongfully deleting messages. Blunt’s privately-hired attorney, a former Missouri Supreme Court judge, told investigators they would have to pay the half-million dollar fee to retrieve the records, which he said was required to cover 14,620 hours of staff time — more than seven years for one employee to perform the task.
E-mails or other records created by public officials while working in publicly-funded positions are public records that should be made available when requested. To demand exorbitant fees of a state investigator who simply wants to ensure the state’s own elected officials are following the law is beyond excessive. The public has a great interest in what its leaders are up to — both in the public’s name and on the public’s dime. When the state itself wants to look at state records, officials should be cooperative, accommodating and do everything in their power not to cloud up access.