JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Lawyers submitted 18 pieces of evidence to the court this afternoon in Missouri Alliance for Freedom’s (MAF) Sunshine Law request case against Auditor Nicole Galloway. Joel Anderson and Paul Harper, attorneys representing the Auditor, filed a motion to dismiss, ask for a protective order, and a stay of discovery on pending Sunshine Law requests. Eddie Greims and Ben Hurst, attorneys representing MAF contend that doing so would allow the Auditor’s office to not fulfill their requests.
In the case, MAF made four requests on three days. On May 2, MAF asked for communications in all forms to and from Doug Nelson, then Senior Counsel to the Auditor, and Paul Harper, legal counsel to Galloway. On the same day, they asked for information relating to the decision to audit the Department of Revenue in April. On May 8, they requested information about the audit of Treasurer Cliff Zweifel, and on May 26, they asked for communications in all forms to and from Auditor Galloway.
Per their requests, Senior Counsel to the Auditor Barbara Wood began fulfilling their requests. Because of the nature of the requests, she had to personally review over 28,000 pages of documents to determine what was relevant to the requests and what was confidential. Some of the information they requested – like communication with third parties about the audit and communication between attorneys and their clients – is confidential. She realized she could not fulfill MAF’s Sunshine requests within the three-day period, so she asked for a 30-day extension updating the MAF as she continued.
In court, Wood testified she had completed the May 8 request for information regarding the audit of Treasurer Zweifel. She also testified that she had not completed the May 2 nor the May 26 request, but is continuing to respond. She says that because MAF’s requests were too broad, she could not complete them in time. Lawyers representing MAF say that she delaying giving the information, is intentionally giving MAF irrelevant documents, and claiming certain information is confidential so they would not have to give up certain information.
Anderson and Harper argue the Auditor wants to finish fulfilling the requests before MAF can make a case for not adhering to the Sunshine Law.
“We’re not trying to do something dramatic,” Anderson says. “What we want to see happen is let’s just get to the end of all this work that we’re doing and then we want to take a look at the pleadings of the case. Even the facts made today make the pleadings filed back in July practically fiction.”
On the other hand, Greims and Hurst want to know why some of the information is classified.
“Who decides what the confidential audit file actually is? What if there are communications between the Auditor’s office and other people,” Greiems said. “There are all kinds of communications that are not actually covered by the [attorney-client] privilege and so we need to know what is actually being claimed to be closed because we don’t know that right now. All we have is this document and an estranged sight of statues.”
Judge Jon Beetem will be reviewing the facts of the case and will be determining whether to accept Anderson and Harper’s motion to dismiss, for a protective order, and a stay of discovery. He has not scheduled a deadline when he will make a decision about whether to continue the case.
Below is the evidence submitted to the court:
Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer