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Attorney: Missouri House restriction of certain records violates state constitution

An attorney for a government transparency group filed a lawsuit against Missouri lawmakers Wednesday over a public records rule that he claims violates state law.

“A Constitutional crisis is being whipped up in the state of Missouri,” attorney Mark Pedroli, of the Sunshine and Government Accountability Project, wrote in the lawsuit against the state House of Representatives.

At the center of the litigation is House Rule 127, which allows lawmakers to redact constituent conversations from open records requests. State representatives approved the rule in January following the passage of Amendment 1, also known as Clean Missouri, which expanded open records laws to include the state legislature.

The rule states representatives “may keep constituent case files, and records of the caucus of the majority or minority party of the House that contain caucus strategy, confidential.” It was passed by the Republican majority in January. For a list of House rules, click here.

Pedroli requested information from the House that was related to an investigation into possible identity theft originally reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Pedroli’s request for certain messages between constituents and lawmakers was partially denied. An attorney for the House said certain information, including the emails and addresses of constituents, was redacted due to the House Rule 127.

The rule violates the state constitution, Pedroli writes in the lawsuit, which was filed in Cole County circuit court, and thus should be deemed unconstitutional.

“The state’s judiciary must strike down this attack by the Missouri House of Representatives on the state Constitution, dissuade future constitutional adventurism, and preserve the rule of law,” Pedroli said in the lawsuit.

Read the full petition below.

Article Topic Follows: Cole

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