Despite prominent usage of the word "confidentiality" throughout negotiations between the state government and former Agriculture Department employee Heather Elder, Governor Matt Blunt says he always intended for the agreement to be made public.
Ms. Elder rejected the agreement because of the confidentiality clause, which would have kept the sexual harassment done to her by former Agriculture Director Fred Ferrel from being made public:
"When settlements occur they're public, and we, of course, believed that it would be," Blunt said last Wednesday. "There was no effort to keep anything secret." Missouri's open-records statute, known as the Sunshine Law, requires settlement agreements involving the government to be made public when the involved parties agree to them. But that doesn't automatically mean the underlying allegations are made public. Drafts of the settlement documents, for example, refer to only general claims of discrimination that would have been resolved through the payment of $70,000 to Elder, $12,500 to her attorney and $2,000 to a mediator. A draft "memorandum of agreement" sent Nov. 17 by Ferrell's private attorney, Dale Doerhoff, to attorneys for Elder and the Agriculture Department apparently would have prohibited the release of anything else.
No matter what the governor says, if he had ever intended for the full truth about Fred Ferrell to come out, he never would have kept Ferrell in office for an additional nine months after the initial Highway Patrol report was completed.