Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today (March 14, 2011) he has filed suit against the city of Lebanon for violating Missouri’s open records laws, commonly called “Sunshine Laws.” Also named in the suit are Henry Luxem, city administrator; Constant P. “CP” Craig, mayor; and Joseph Brauer, chief of police.
Koster said in December 2010, Brauer sent an email to some employees of the police department informing them that the city council had reversed a police board decision to discipline an employee and indicating his disagreement with that decision. A few days later, an open records request was made seeking the email and related documents. The city of Lebanon denied the sunshine request, stating that the email was not a public record. In January 2011, the Attorney General’s Office sent Luxem a letter stating that emails sent on, received by, and retained on the city’s computers are public records and that the requested email must be disclosed under the Sunshine Law. The city continues to maintain the email is not a public record.
Koster said other concerns include problems maintaining proper police incident reports and releasing arrest reports when they are open records.
“Missouri’s Sunshine Law is crystal clear that both state and local governments must be open to the people,” Koster said. “Governmental bodies cannot make arbitrary rules to keep our citizens out of the process.”
Koster is asking the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the defendants from further violating the Sunshine Law, assess civil penalties up to $5,000 against each defendant, and require the defendants to pay court costs.