An editorial in today's Springfield News-Leader expresses disappointment with the way Governor Matt Blunt has handled the sexual harassment case of former Agriculture Director Fred Ferrell.
In particular, the editorial criticizes the way Blunt and the Republican Party have tried to shift the blame from the governor to his potential opponent in the 2008 election Attorney General Jay Nixon:
The problem with that is Nixon didn't hire a lecherous old man to join his cabinet. Blunt did.
Nixon didn't respond to a serious allegation of sexual harassment by a female state worker by ordering an illegal Missouri Highway Patrol investigation. Blunt did.
Nixon didn't ignore a report that any reasonable thinking person would realize displayed the sort of behavior by Ferrell that would disqualify him from any position of management in today's society, let alone a position atop a state agency. Blunt did.
The editorial notes that the governor earlier indicated he would release the Highway Patrol investigation report into the sexual harassment charge once negotiations with the accuser, Heather Elder, were completed:
But that is contradicted by the very settlement agreement the state offered Elder, which she never signed. The settlement agreement, obtained by the News-Leader, includes a confidentiality clause that violates the Sunshine Law and makes it clear Blunt never intended this information to become public.
Were this the first time this governor tried to keep information from the public, and he showed remorse for his mistake, it might be forgivable. But this is the same governor who two years ago kept disabled state taxpayers out of a public meeting discussing their future. This is the same governor who was directly involved with a state student-loan board clearly violating Sunshine Law in order to implement the governor's agenda. This is a governor who has made it clear that his political agenda is more important than the very important job he was elected to do.