Wednesday, January 07, 2009

In Hunter affair, state senator's attempt to intimidate Joplin Globe almost forgotten

With the latest revelations about the classless (and possibly outside the law) way Rita Hunter left her office as Jasper County public administrator, it should not be forgotten that the an elected official, Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, was part of an unsuccessful effort by Rita Hunter and her husband, former Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, to intimidate the Joplin Globe into pulling bulldog reporter Susan Redden off Mrs. Hunter's heels.

Mayer, an attorney, threatened to sue the Joplin Globe, and information about that impending lawsuit, including a letter written by Mayer to Joplin Globe Publisher Dan Chiodo, was leaked to area media, including KZRG, which first broke the story, The Carthage Press and The Mornin' Mail:

This is the text of the letter Mayer sent to Chiodo:

Dear Mr. Chiodo:

I have been retained by Steve and Rita Hunter to file a lawsuit against the Joplin Globe for defaming Ms. Rita Hunter who is presently the public administrator in Jasper County. The Hunters have sent numerous articles published by the Joplin Globe and written by reporter Susan Redden that mention Ms. Hunter in her capacity as public administrator. After reading these articles and reviewing evidence provided by the Hunters, I believe that your paper has published certain stories that grossly misrepresent Ms. Hunter’s role in the process of a guardianship/conservatorship for Mrs. France being ordered by the Jasper County Probate Court.

Furthermore, after reviewing copies of the Court transcripts, I believe the stories were written with actual malice towards Ms. Hunter and that your reporter and newspaper had knowledge of their falsity.

Additionally, Ms. Hunter has related to me that several quotes she gave to your reporter were changed and certain words not included. These material changes have a negative effect on the reader in contrast to what the true and accurate statements would have produced.

I am pursuing further evidence and witnesses with the intentions of filing a lawsuit against your newspaper for the defamation of Ms. Rita Hunter in her capacity as Jasper County Public Administrator.

Sincerely yours,

Robert N. Mayer

That letter was written more than six months ago, just before Mrs. Hunter's Republican primary loss to Angie Casavecchia Ashens.

I will venture no opinion about whether Mayer actually wrote the letter, since as I noted in the Jan. 3 Turner Report, his name sometimes goes out over columns that he may not have written.

The Joplin Globe has never backed down in its coverage of Rita Hunter and the Jasper County public administrator's office, something for which the taxpaying public should be grateful.


Anonymous said...

You refer to the public administrator as Angie Casavecchia Ashens. In looking at casenet, I see she was granted a dissolution of marriage from Mr. Ashens on 12/15/08. In the divorce, she was restored to her former name of Casavecchia. As such, Ashens is no longer her name.

Wes Franklin said...

"Additionally, Ms. Hunter has related to me that several quotes she gave to your reporter were changed and certain words not included"

That's why I record all interviews and keep the files on hand for some time. No chance for claims of a misquote.