E-mails Felled Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt; Will You Be Next?

November 16, 2008

If e-mails are the smoking gun of the 21st Century, yesterday’s articles in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch paint a picture of a governor’s administration brought to its knees by electronic weapons of mass destruction. (www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/missouristatenews/story/C0EBA8398C4CF4DE86257502007997A1?Open Document)

Emails from Blunt’s office obtained by the Post-Dispatch via a lawsuit brought under Missouri’s Sunshine Law refute a number of claims by the Blunt Administration that never really passed “the smell test.”

Blunt subordinates claimed that fired Blunt attorney Scott Eckersley never raised concerns with his superiors that the Blunt administration was deleting e-mails it was required by law to keep. The e-mails established that Eckersley did.

Members of the Blunt administration denied doing government business using campaign e-mail accounts. Again, the e-mails obtained by the Post-Dispatch refute that denial.

The e-mails reviewed by the Post-Dispatch also include personal e-mails authored and received by Blunt administration officials, including former chief-of-staff Ed Martin.

It’s remarkable that the governor and officials at the highest level of state government apparently believed that the truth would never see the light of day. But I wonder how many other CEOs and high-level managers in both the public and private sectors are in the same predicament. While private concerns, of course, are not subject to Sunshine Law requests, the same type of data that doomed the Blunt administration is subject to subpoenas and other legal process directed to private concerns.

The question is, who will learn from the demise of Gov. Blunt?

DISCLOSURE: Prior to founding The Chval Law Group in January 2008, I was employed by Attorney General (now Governor-elect) Jay Nixon as the chief of the Attorney General’s High Tech and Computer Crime Unit. I had no involvement in any investigation of or litigation involving the e-mail or data retention practices of Governor Blunt’s office.