JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Top officials for Gov. Matt Blunt illegally ordered the destruction of backup tapes containing office emails so they could not be released to the media, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon claims in Cole County Circuit Court.
Nixon, who is running for governor, appointed a special investigative team to the case. It named Gov. Blunt and Dan Ross, the state’s custodian of records, as defendants.
Blunt’s officials ordered the tapes deleted on Oct. 31, 2007, just after the governor’s deputy counsel, Scott Eckersley, was fired, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Eckersley had raised concerns about the governor’s office erasing emails that should be preserved as public records.
The e-mails were preserved because two supervisors in the state Office of Administration refused to comply with the order.
State law defines some government emails are public records and requires that they be kept for up to three years.
Nixon’s team demands that all the emails stored on backup tapes that were targeted to be destroyed be turned over to a judge.
Blunt’s administration told the investigative team it must pay $540,000 to obtain the emails, to cover the estimated 14,000 staff hours it would take to comply with the investigative team’s 45 requests.