Letter to the Editor

Governor Blunt's office responds to editorial

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear Editor:

Mike Jensen's editorial about e-mail and the governor's office contained

numerous factual errors that must be corrected. Since much of what he

has learned about this is probably from the Saint Louis Post Dispatch

and other biased sources we can understand how he made these mistakes.

First, in his editorial, Mr. Jensen asserts that there is a "refusal by

the Blunt administration to release e-mails from his office." Nothing

could be further from the truth. Here is the truth:

1.) The governor's office has said it would never deny access to any

e-mail unless it was closed by law.

2.) The governor's office retains and releases more e-mails than any

other elected official. This includes Jay Nixon, whose office admitted

it routinely destroys e-mail records in response to an analysis of

e-mail policies conducted last September by The Associated Press.

3.) Gov. Blunt directed the Office of Administration to create an e-mail

retention and retrieval system to ensure e-mails in the governor's

office are saved and retained forever. This permanent e-mail retention

system has been implemented and Jay Nixon is refusing to participate in

it as his office continues to destroy e-mail records.

Second, Mr. Jensen claimed that "Blunt says his e-mail correspondence is

not subject to the state law and would jeopardize the ability of future

top state executives from conducting business."

This is false. The governor's office has never claimed executive

privilege in response to a request for e-mails.

Third, Mr. Jensen asserted we are arguing a "constitutional" question

about e-mail. This is wrong. The governor's office has said that as

long as the person asking for information pays any costs associated with

producing e-mails we will provide them. If the office receives tailored

and reasonable requests for information we respond quickly and often at

no cost.

When the governor's office is asked for massive amounts of information

such as hundreds of thousands of e-mails it cannot respond quickly and

affordably, and the person requesting this information should pay the


For example, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is charging $91,000 for

one e-mail account in her office. The governor's office has not charged

that much for one e-mail account, but we have been asked for hundreds of

thousands of e-mails from 43 e-mail accounts in our office. Missouri

taxpayers have to pay for the time and personnel it takes to retrieve

and review hundreds of thousands of e-mails in response to requests for

massive amounts of information, they should be reimbursed for this


Fourth, the governor's office is not concerned about anything

"embarrassing or questionable" on our e-mails. As I have stated, we are

constantly providing e-mails in response to open records request.

It is the law and we follow it.

Mike Jensen is a highly respected and thoughtful newspaper publisher.

He is a person of integrity who we believe does his best to get the

story right. Unfortunately, even the best slip up every once in a



Trish Vincent
Chief of Staff
Office of Missouri Governor Matt Blunt