The Missouri Republican Party recently pointed out the increasingly secretive nature of Jay Nixon’s administration. Nixon’s lack of openness is now unmistakable, as he continues to refuse to release videotapes that could show meetings with DNR officials that his office claims never took place. His decision to withhold this evidence from the public has garnered criticism from lawmakers, the media, and the current Attorney General, who believes the request was “legitimate” (and who will release his report into Sunshine Law violations by the DNR later this week).
This is the same Jay Nixon who, as Attorney General, claimed that “open government is the best government.” Nixon also supported a bill that would strengthen penalties for breaking the Sunshine Law—even unknowingly. But now the tables are turned, and Nixon is the center of an investigation for his attempts to hide the truth.
“Jay Nixon used to say that he would educate, mediate and litigate on behalf of the Sunshine Law, but since becoming governor, all he has done is obfuscate, complicate, and frustrate,” said Lloyd Smith, Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party. “This time, Nixon has crossed the line by invoking the possibility of terrorism to shut down a public records request that even the Democrat Attorney General calls legitimate. The videotape very well may reveal damaging secrets, but these secrets would only threaten Nixon’s political career—not the security of the Capitol itself.”
Nixon’s past statements on the Sunshine Law:
Press release, March 10, 2006: Openness by public officials in holding meetings and in making public records available is essential to the well-being of good government, Attorney General Jay Nixon said today. At the core of this openness, Nixon said, is Missouri's Open Meetings and Records Law, commonly known as the Sunshine Law… "As much as possible, the officeholders, boards, agencies and organizations that are covered by the Sunshine Law must keep public business public," Nixon said. "My office has taken an active role to ensure compliance with the Sunshine Law. We educate, mediate and, if necessary, litigate."
Press release, November 20, 2006:"Open government is the best government," Nixon said. "This is another way in which we are trying to provide useful information to citizens and public officials about what Missouri law says must be open. I encourage Missourians to take the quiz so they can learn more about the Sunshine Law and use that knowledge to ensure that our government records and meetings, from city hall to the state Capitol, are open to the fullest extent possible."
AP, February 19, 2009: “Missouri's governor and attorney general expressed support Thursday for strengthening the state's open government and meetings laws. Gov. Jay Nixon said he backs legislation allowing penalties against all government officials who violate the Sunshine Law, regardless of whether they do so knowingly… "If you put public officials and public bodies at risk for those fees, they're much more likely to err on the side of openness," Nixon told media gathered Thursday at the Governor's Mansion for the annual Associated Press and Missouri Press Association Day at the Capitol.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
GOP attacks Nixon administration refusal to release surveillance tapes
I am surprised that took a week, but the Missouri Republican Party has issued a news release concerning the controversy over the Nixon administration's rejection of Springfield News-Leader reporter Chad Livengood's request for surveillance tapes which would show whether the governor met with DNR officials about e. coil infestation at the Lake of the Ozarks: