Sunday, November 18, 2007

Putting out a fire with gasoline

It would have been a sight to behold, and I wish I had seen it...

On Veterans Day, Matty B came to KC to the world headquarters of the VFW for the obligatory medal ceremony that happens every November, and after the event, three KC Star reporters tried to get an answer from Baby Guv about the brewing email scandal in Jefferson City. He quite literally broke into a run to get away from the likes of Kit Wagar, Steve Kraske and Dave Helling.

As the reporters closed in, a security guard (who looks disturbingly like that guy on Springer) shoved Wagar, who was pushed back into Kraske, who was knocked back into Helling - who is a pretty big guy, so presumably he didn't go anywhere. But Kraske was suddenly faced with having to acknowledge that there is indeed a story there, and he should prolly say sumthin' about it, and damnit to hell, thats gonna deal a setback to his secret desire to be Matty B's next press secretary...But Helling had that damnable camera of his running, and the video was all over the interwebs an hour later...

For those unfamiliar with Missouri's latest gubernatorial malfeasance, it's a potboiler.

It all started a few weeks ago when Tony Messenger, political reporter for the Springfield News-Leader came into possession of an email from Blunt chief-of-staff Ed Martin that indicated Martin was performing political work from his state-funded office, and that is a violation of ethics rules. Messenger started asking questions of the governors office, and under the states Sunshine Law, he asked to see other emails like it. He was told that other emails didn't exist because Martin and other officials in the Blunt administration routinely deleted emails, which violates violates public records rules that mandate openness and transparency, and to that end, email retention.

Well, the governors office went into full freak-out mode and proceeded to compound their troubles exponentially. They denied they were aware of the policy on email retention - but the AP soon turned up with an email from a lawyer who served in the Blunt administration who said he had advised the governors staff to stop deleting email.

And here is where it gets really weird and the hubris becomes palpable. Scott Eckersley, the attorney who gave the administration the advice they didn't want to hear was fired and slandered and had his character and his ethics challenged; and Eckersley, a devout Mormon, was accused of getting porn emails at his state email address. (Don't we all get offers for penis enlargement, and gender is no deterrent?)

The issue has consumed a tremendous amount of newsprint all over the state, and it has been scathing of Blunt and Martin, and sympathetic to Eckersley. And two weeks in to the whole fiasco, the Blunt administration cut off their nose to spite their face. The administration filed a complaint with the state bar association, claiming that Eckersley violated the confidentiality he owed the governor as his attorney when he talked to the press. The complaint is tacit acknowledgment that Eckersley did indeed advise the governor and his staff to stop deleting emails.

And by Thursday of last week, baby guv had unveiled a new plan to archive every single email that is sent or received on state computers, because he wants to "avoid confusion" - except his staff seems to be the only folks who are afflicted by confusion. But that didn't stop him from blaming Jay Nixon, the current Attorney General. Blunt, in a stunning display of audacious gall, said his new scheme would "prevent what has happened in Attorney General Nixon's office, where the spokesperson said that e-mails are routinely deleted." Nixon, as every Missourian knows, is challenging Blunt in next years governors race, and in the words of Hotflash, my good friend and fellow co-blogger at Show Me Progress (and by the way, she has been absolutely tireless on this issue) Blunt isn't just going to lose next fall. He is going to get demolished.

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