Friday, August 7, 2009

What do Terrorism, E. Coli, the Sunshine Law and Governor Nixon Have in Common?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 4:45 PM

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There's a new terrorism-flavored twist in "E. coli-gate."

(Quick refresher: an investigation by the Kansas City Star in July revealed that the state knew that E. coli levels in the Lake of the Ozarks were really high, but didn't publicize them for fear of hurting tourism; the big political question is: What did Governor Nixon know, and when did he know it? The Post-Dispatch gives some nice context here)

Now, contrary to what internal e-mails suggest, the Governor's office has denied holding a June 3 meeting with another state official to discuss the E. coli problem. So our colleagues down at the News-Leader in Springfield got an idea: let's request the footage from a security camera trained on the Governor's office door to see who went in and out that day!

(Under Missouri's Sunshine Law, which is sort of the Freedom of Information Act for our state, you can request this kind of thing).

Well, police in the state capitol have refused to release the footage of the Governor's office door, citing an exception in the Sunshine Law that says they needn't release records if doing so would help terrorists be terrorist-y. Specifically, they said, the footage might reveal some blind spots around the office door that could compromise security.

A few state senators and representatives of the Republican persuasion seem to think that the terrorism fear in this particular case (involving a Democratic governor) is a big pile of horse dung. The Daily RFT cannot fathom why.

Check out the full story here.

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