The to-do between Scott Eckersley and the entire Blunt administration hinges on one contested issue: Did Eckersley, previous to his firing, warn the governor that deleting e-mails was illegal under the Sunshine Law?
Blunt’s office, in the person of Rich AuBuchon, has insisted there are no such e-mails:
“Mr. Eckersley never once voiced a concern, never once wrote an e-mail, never once talked to other employees in the office evidencing any concern that the governor’s office was not complying with the Sunshine Law or any record-retention policies.”
So far, we don’t have the definitive answer, but we do have a pile of circumstantial evidence that Baby Blunt is lying. To begin with, Blunt is hiding the e-mails in question behind attorney-client privilege. Possible motives for doing that would be:
a) He wants to keep the story going, so that he can continue to look bad.
b) Like his role model, George Stonewall-’em Bush, he thinks no one should have the right to ever question him or make him prove anything.
c) There are several e-mails in there that would hang him, and he’d rather look guilty than be caught with his pants down.
Without the definitive proof, reporters are left to work with what they’ve got, and that would be the boxes of Eckersley’s effects that the Blunters shipped to the Post-Dispatch and to Tony Messenger at the Springfield News-Leader. According to Messenger, there are items of interest in those boxes:
One of the e-mails sent by the state to reporters was sent Sept. 20 from Eckersley to Jonathan Bunch, a former Blunt employee. Here’s what Eckersley wrote after Bunch asked about Eckersley’s discussions with his bosses about e-mail retention:
“Wow … I fired on people yesterday about that – I just got so sick of it – I emailed Chrismer and HH and ed.”
That Eckersley says he e-mailed Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer, HH (probably attorney Henry Herschel) and ed (likely chief of staff Ed Martin) proves nothing, of course.
But it would sure indicate that somebody ought to be looking for e-mails to those three high-level Blunt staffers.
Messenger emphasizes the importance of that and other e-mails that are similarly inconclusive but that, taken together, indicate that Eckersley is credible.
One of the most intriguing parts of the story is that the governor’s office sent those boxes of Eckersley effects of its own free will. Nobody asked to see them (except for Eckersley’s attorney, who was refused). The state just … sent them, apparently without reading all of them first, since several of them lend credence to Eckersley’s claims. They sent out enough material to pique our interest and tar their own credibility, and now they want us to drop it.
Never mind being effective at governing. These dimwits weren’t even smart enough to leave well enough alone.
(photo of Scott Eckersley courtesy of Fired Up!)