July 20, 2008

Special Assistant Attorney General Requested in Suit Against Blunt Over E-Mail Records

By Jason Noble, The Kansas City Star, Mo.

Jul. 20--JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri attorney general's office Friday asked a judge to appoint a special assistant attorney general in the pending lawsuit against Gov. Matt Blunt over e-mail records.

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan recently dismissed the suit, ruling that the plaintiff, former Missouri Highway Patrol chief Mel Fisher, did not have standing.

Fisher was appointed last year by Attorney General Jay Nixon to investigate whether Blunt's office destroyed public records that the law said must be retained. In May, Fisher sued, seeking access to hundreds of thousands of documents.

In his ruling, Callahan gave Fisher 10 days to establish his standing, ask Nixon to join the suit or ask the court to appoint a special assistant attorney general to represent Fisher.

A letter sent Friday said Nixon would not join the suit, and instead asked Callahan to appoint a special assistant to represent Fisher. The letter also asked the judge to grant the special assistant more time to file a petition.

The attorney general's office provided the letter to The Kansas City Star but declined to speak on the record about it.

The Blunt administration has long accused Nixon of playing politics with Fisher's investigation and the subsequent suit.

In a statement, Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Robinson said the governor's attorneys would seek another dismissal should the suit return to court.

"Jay Nixon has already lost once with the dismissal of the lawsuit filed by his political operatives," Robinson said in the statement. "The fact that neither Jay Nixon nor his political appointee Mr. Fisher are willing to file anything themselves suggests they understand the likelihood of losing a second time."

To reach Jason Noble, call 573-634-3565 or send e-mail to [email protected]


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