Did Missouri’s Former Treasurer Break the Law? The Case of the Missing Entirety of an Administration…

St. Louis Beacon

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This from the St. Louis Beacon, advancing its initial story, which was followed by Politico yesterday, on our state’s fascinating story of the week:

The national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today accused former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman of possibly breaking state law because she may have taken more than her personal effects when she left office in January 2009.

A spokesman for the DSCC acknowledged in an interview that it had sent an open-records request to current state Treasurer Clint Zweifel’s office for emails, official schedules and other items pertaining to Steelman’s four years in office.

But here is the best part:

Steelman’s old records are to be retained up to three years, depending on the document, and stored in the state Archives, which is under the jurisdiction of Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

But according to Zweifel’s spokesman Jon Galloway today, Carnahan’s staff –and a senior employee with the state Archives — reported that no such documents existed from Steelman’s tenure.

Galloway provided the Beacon with a copy of an email from the Archives confirming that “the Archives does not have any records from the Treasurer’s office for the 2005-2009 years.”

It has no records? None? None? Wow…….

I keep getting a mental image of one of those big rental storage cubes, piled high with bankers’ boxes, for some reason.

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Now Here Is A New Strategy: “Documents…What Documents?”

Right here in chilly, grey Missouri, we have a nice little FOI flap brewing. It seems that the state’s former treasurer can’t find pretty much any of the records worth looking at for, well…the entire four years she was in office!

Here is Politico:

Sarah Steelman’s political opponents aren’t finding much daylight in their Sunshine requests for records while she was Missouri’s state treasurer.

In fact, it appears that most of the key documents from her four-year term between 2004 and 2008 aren’t available.

The current state treasurer’s office tells POLITICO it hasn’t been able to track down schedules, emails and other documents from Steelman’s tenure that are routinely retained.

“We have received Sunshine Requests similar to this question.  What we have found is that we do not know how they kept those records because we do not have them. Our team has searched the office for any schedules and public documents and we do not have them,” said Jon Galloway, the treasurer’s office director of communications and policy.

Steelman, now a Republican candidate for U.S.  Senate, has often touted the virtues of transparency and open government.  In a 2004 editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, she wrote that “every elected official at every level of government should strive to ensure that our laws, our records and our meetings are open to the public’s scrutiny.”

The great irony of this is that the FOI requests came from opposition researchers looking for issues to raise in the Senate election, to neutralize the damage caused to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who was forced to admit she had failed to pay taxes on a personal plane she used for official travel.  (She’s since paid more than $300,000 in back taxes and fees.)

Now, I guess they have found the issue, by not finding the records….

 

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