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Pension payments to former governors must be disclosed

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Pension payments to former governors must be disclosed07/15/96 MISSOURI--A state appeals court in late June ordered the organization that administers…

Pension payments to former governors must be disclosed

07/15/96

MISSOURI–A state appeals court in late June ordered the organization that administers retirement benefits for state officials to disclose to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the pensions paid to two former Missouri governors and other officials.

The decision by the Court of Appeals in St. Louis overturned a lower court’s ruling that the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System (MOSERS) did not have to turn over such information under the state’s open records law.

The case arose in June 1994, when Virginia Young, a reporter for the Post-Dispatch, asked MOSERS to disclose the amount of pension payments, length of service, salary history and dates of pension payments made to former Governors Warren Hearnes and Christopher S. “Kit” Bond, former House Speakers Richard J. Rabbitt and Kenneth J. Rothman, and former Senate Presidents Pro Tem Earl R. Blackwell and William J. Cason.

The retirement system’s officials refused to provide the records on the basis of a MOSERS regulation making such records confidential. The Post-Dispatch filed suit, but a St. Louis trial court dismissed the suit, finding the newspaper had no right to the records.

The appellate court found that pension payments to all of the former state officials were open under the public records law. Because the MOSERS regulation was in direct conflict with that law, it was ruled invalid. (Pulitzer Publishing Co. v. Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System; Media Counsel: Robert Hoemeke, Eric Paulsrud, St. Louis)