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Missouri attorney general accuses Stenger of violating state’s open records law

St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger said his transition into his new office is going much more smoothly than last week.
File photo | Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County executive Steve Stenger has been accused of violating Missouri's open records law.

Missouri's attorney general has accused St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger of multiple violations of the Missouri Sunshine Law.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Josh Hawley, a Republican, accuses Stenger, a Democrat, of failing to respond to records requests by the deadline set in state law. Stenger’s office is also accused of failing to have one person handle all records requests.

“Governmental transparency is a key tenet of democracy,” Hawley said in a statement. “Missouri Sunshine Law exists so that Missourians can know that their government is working for them. Those who violate our State Open Records laws should recognize that on my watch, they will be prosecuted for violating this trust.”

Stenger’s office called the lawsuit a “transparent attempt by the Republican attorney general to score political points in his campaign to unseat the Democratic U.S. senator,” and said it responds to Sunshine requests in a “lawful and timely manner.”

Also on Wednesday, Hawley sued Renee Reuter, the former chair of the Jefferson County Council, for allegedly ordering a county employee to delete emails relating to county business. Reuter could not immediately be reached for comment. The suits seek thousands of dollars in fines. 

This is not the first time Stenger has been accused of withholding information. Last spring, the St. Louis County Council tried to hire additional staff for the county auditor’s office, a move council members said was necessary to get details the county executive was not providing. The hiring attempt is now the subject of a separate lawsuit.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.