AG Hawley Files Two Lawsuits Alleging Sunshine Law Violations

Jan 18, 2018, 09:08 AM
Jan 18, 2018, 09:07 AM

Jefferson City, Mo.  – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced that his office has filed lawsuits alleging Sunshine Law violations in two separate Missouri counties.

A lawsuit filed in Jefferson County alleges that a former Jefferson County Council Chair instructed a subordinate to destroy e-mails containing billing statements related to an outside law firm hired by the County Council. The lawsuit further alleges the former County Council Chair told the assistant to refrain from releasing the e-mails if requested.  

A second lawsuit, filed in St. Louis County, alleges a systemic pattern of failing to adhere to the Sunshine Law on the part of the St. Louis County Executive’s Office. The lawsuit alleges that in a number of instances, the County Executive’s Office never responded to requests. The lawsuit further alleges the Office, in at least some circumstances, failed to provide requested documents to journalists. 

Finally, 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.” 

Concerned Missourians can file complaints about possible Sunshine violations on our website.