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News & Current Events Discuss Missouri aide raised e-mail concerns before firing at the General Forum; ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A review of e-mail records by media organizations including The Associated Press supports claims by a ...

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Old 11-17-2008, 02:17 PM
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Default Missouri aide raised e-mail concerns before firing

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A review of e-mail records by media organizations including The Associated Press supports claims by a former legal counsel to Gov. Matt Blunt that he was fired shortly after cautioning his colleagues that their defense of e-mail deletions ran contrary to state law.

But the e-mails also confirm that Scott Eckersley performed private-sector work with state resources and was repeatedly late to work, two factors cited in his dismissal. Blunt officials have claimed Eckersley never raised concerns about their e-mail practices and was fired for justifiable reasons.

The roughly 60,000 pages of e-mails released under a legal settlement with the media put focus on the assertions of Eckersley, who went from being praised by his bosses to banished from the office in a matter of weeks - just as he was raising red flags about their handling of e-mails.

An analysis of the e-mails was conducted as a collaboration of the AP, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Kansas City Star, all of which had submitted Sunshine Law requests about a year ago seeking Blunt administration e-mails culled from Missouri's computerized backup system.

The office of Blunt, a Republican, initially said it would cost $23,000 to retrieve, review and copy the e-mails. The media groups sued, and the governor's office provided the e-mails for free under the legal settlement.

The AP submitted an open-records request for the e-mails in October 2007, shortly after Eckersley went public with allegations that he had been fired in September after raising concerns that colleagues weren't following e-mail retention requirements.

Eckersley's attorney, Jeff Bauer, said Friday that the newly released e-mails confirm his client's account that he was fired after raising concerns to top Blunt aides about their e-mail policies.

"It is a sentinel event which shows you everything he's been saying from day one is absolutely true and everything they have said is absolutely false," said Bauer, who declined to let Eckersley comment.

Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Robinson said the e-mails reinforce the position of Blunt's administration about Eckersley's dismissal, noting that none said Eckersley was fired for raising concerns about the e-mail policies.

"The reason for his firing had nothing to do with the Sunshine Law or the record-retention law, and his e-mails bolster what we had said and our contention that he was dismissed for poor job performance and doing outside work on a state computer and on state time," Robinson said.

At the same time Eckersley made his allegations, Blunt's administration sent an unsolicited stack of documents to the media defending Eckersley's dismissal and disparaging him by claiming he had viewed a "group sex Internet site," among other things.


Eckersley has since filed a wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit against Blunt and his top aides.

The controversy over e-mail deletions in Blunt's office began in September 2007, when the Springfield News-Leader said it had requested e-mail communications between the governor's office and anti-abortion interests but was told the e-mails didn't exist.

Blunt's spokesman asserted "there is no statute or case that requires the state to retain individuals' emails as a public record."

In fact, e-mails are public records under state law. Depending on the topic, some can be deleted soon after receipt, but others must be kept for three years, and those that relate to the development of state policies must be permanently saved.


About the same time the media were questioning Blunt's e-mail policies, records show Eckersley was assigned to update the office's Sunshine Law policy. On Sept. 14, he sent an e-mail to several top Blunt officials recommending they respond to the media by acknowledging that e-mails can be public records that must be retained.

Eckersley also e-mailed the governor's chief of staff Ed Martin to say the employee manual included an official office policy on records retention. Eckersley was fired Sept. 28.

In a letter to the media a month later, Blunt's deputy administration commissioner, Rich AuBuchon, said he was fired for cause "after months of performance-related problems."

TBO.com - News From AP

What a load of crap. A disgruntled ex-employee makes a false claim and gets nat'l attention for it. The people filing the complaint are making it sound like the law says that all emails must be retained, when that's not the case. It's only those that fit certain criteria. It also sounds like the govs. office is trying to cover up a screw up in retaining emails that probably shlould have been kept. IMO, both parties have screwed up and need to fix the problem (in the case of the govs. office) or shut up and start looking for a job (in the case of the ex-employee).
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:52 PM
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Default Re: Missouri aide raised e-mail concerns before firing

Quote:
Originally Posted by faithful_servant View Post
What a load of crap. A disgruntled ex-employee makes a false claim and gets nat'l attention for it. The people filing the complaint are making it sound like the law says that all emails must be retained, when that's not the case. It's only those that fit certain criteria. It also sounds like the govs. office is trying to cover up a screw up in retaining emails that probably shlould have been kept. IMO, both parties have screwed up and need to fix the problem (in the case of the govs. office) or shut up and start looking for a job (in the case of the ex-employee).
What's weird is I work for a company that retains emails...FOREVER...

It's not that hard...
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