Saturday, February 24, 2024

AG Bailey set to begin work on 2023 Sunshine Law requests - STLPR

By the end of the month, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey expects to complete work on the mountain of public records requests submitted to the office last year.

That will allow the five-person team working through the Sunshine Law backlog to finally turn its attention to the nearly 300 pending requests filed since Bailey took office in January.

“I’m proud of the thorough and expeditious work we’ve done to get Missourians the records they have requested,” Bailey said in an emailed statement.

First Amendment and government transparency advocates, however, aren’t so sanguine about Bailey’s efforts.

Records requests filed since January have continued to pile up, leaving many waiting more than a year for Bailey’s office to take any action. And new requests, no matter how simple and easy to turn around, are still projected to take at least six months to be completed.

The attorney general’s website declares that the Sunshine Law is the “embodiment of Missouri’s commitment to openness in government,” said Bernie Rhodes, a First Amendment attorney who has represented numerous media outlets, including The Independent.

By allowing requests to pile up and wither on the vine, Rhodes said, Bailey isn’t living up to those standards.

“It’s called the Sunshine Law for a reason. It exposes sunlight on what our government is doing. If we have to wait six months to find out what someone did last week, it may be too late to do anything about that,” Rhodes said.

“It’s not called the...

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