Some caution is advisable in taking Scott Eckersley’s word against the entire Blunt administration. After all, Eckersley did take a job with those scummy people, so why should we assume that the young lawyer is a pure-as-the-driven-snow idealist.
In the game of “he said/they said”, Eckersley claims he told the higher ups in the governor’s office that their policy of deleting e-mails was illegal. They didn’t like to hear that, so they fired him and promised to smear his character if he complained. They say he never said any such thing–until after he was fired for moral turpitude.
He claims he wouldn’t have gone public if they had at least given him a recommendation so he could get another job, preferably with the Romney campaign. They say he tried to extort the Romney job from them by inventing this tale about warning them to stop deleting e-mails.
Some “he said/they said” brouhahas are impossible to sort out, but not this one. This one’s plain. Bluntco is lying through its collective teeth, and as liars, they blunder around like drunks. As much practice as they get at evasion, equivocation and stretching the truth, you’d think they’d develop some skills.
Tony Messenger of the Springfield News-Leader outed the story with the original Sunshine Law request for e-mails that the governor’s office refused to honor, and Messenger has done yeoman’s duty reporting on all the subsequent developments. He says that the extortion claim is fishy at best when you consider how Eckersley went about protesting his firing:
When Eckersley first went to KC attorney Mike Ketchmark to talk to him about his wrongful termination case, Ketchmark advised Eckersley that this would be a very messy affair and that the best thing to do would be to make it go away. Eckersley agreed and Ketchmark tried to make that happen. He called former U.S. attorney Todd Graves, who then called Craighead to ask him to help get involved so this embarrasment would not hit the press. Craighead confirmed on the record this morning that it was Graves who first called him.
It makes no sense to go through a former U.S. Attorney (who was fired by Bush for being too ethical) if your aim is extortion. Intelligent liars would have at least considered Graves’ role before deciding to smear Eckersley’s character and to pursue the “extortion” angle.
Instead, they were eager to drag Eckersley through the muck, presumably because he had the temerity to mention that their e-mail policy did not conform to state law. To that end, they sent boxes of his records and e-mails, unsolicited, to the Post-Dispatch and to Tony Messenger. These were the same records that they had refused to send to Eckersley’s attorney because they were “private personnel matters.” So private that they sent them, unasked for, to two newspapers? Seriously. These guys are so dim they’re out of their depth in a puddle.
So it comes as no surprise that they were dumb enough to refuse to give Eckersley a recommendation and let him get another job. If they had done that, he’d have stayed quiet. The whole thing would have gone away.
But no, they had to be bullies. Now the press is asking to see the e-mails Eckersley says he wrote them warning them that deleting e-mails about state business was illegal. Eckersley says he’d be happy to make those public, but since he was Blunt’s lawyer when he wrote them, he’s not at liberty to make them public without Blunt’s permission: attorney-client privilege forbids it. And Blunt’s office is refusing to let the press see all the records.
If I were a public figure planning to deny that someone wrote me e-mails, it might occur to me in advance that I’d be asked to reveal all the e-mails so that the press could get at the truth. And, therefore, if I knew those e-mails did exist, I wouldn’t start a public hubbub. Because hiding them would look bad.
But that’s me. Bluntco apparently didn’t think this out, and now Blunt is hiding records to protect himself. Isn’t this where we came in, with Blunt being secretive and uncooperative? He looks guilty as hell. Hell, he is guilty as hell.
And he still hasn’t learned the lesson. He’s still deleting e-mails and daring anybody to file a civil suit to make him stop. Nixon could do so, but since that would look politically motivated, he has held off so far. And that’s a smart move, because, as long as Blunt keeps thumbing his nose at the public’s right to know, he looks more and more like his role model: George Stonewall-’em-and-lie-to-’em Bush.