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Friday, May 9, 2008


An independent investigator filed a lawsuit on May 5 alleging that Gov. Matt Blunt or top officials in his administration ordered the destruction of backup tapes containing potentially damaging e-mails sent by members of his staff. The destruction was thwarted when two information technology supervisors with the Office of Administration refused to comply because the e-mails were subject to pending open records requests by various media outlets, according to the lawsuit.

Mel Fisher, the former Missouri State Highway Patrol superintendent heading the investigation, filed the suit in response to months of stonewalling by the Blunt administration, which has refused to cooperate with the investigation or produce requested records. The suit asks the court to take custody of the records so that it may review them.

The e-mail controversy began in September when reporters began looking into potentially improper political activities by Blunt’s then-Chief of Staff Ed Martin. Scott Eckersley, an attorney in Blunt’s office, later was fired for advising the governor that Martin and others were breaking state open record and record retention laws. The administration then orchestrated a failed smear campaign to discredit Eckersley, which prompted him to file a pending defamation and wrongful termination suit against the governor. Attorney General Jay Nixon appointed the independent team of investigators in November to look into allegations of criminal activity related to the e-mail controversy by administration officials.

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