This week on the CoMo Explained podcast we talk about why government transparency matters.
In 2011 the St Louis Post-Dispatch broke a big story that showed then Lt. Governor Peter Kinder had used taxpayer money to pay for expensive hotels when he wasn't on official government business. This wasn't just a little white lie either: the total damage came out to more than $35,000 of Missouri taxpayer money. This, compared to less than $2,500 in hotel expenses from his predecessor.
That's the kind of information that you can only get when the government is forced to be transparent. Reporter Jake Wagman formally requested travel records from Kinder's office and if it wasn't for laws like the Missouri Sunshine Law and the Freedom of Information Act, he may never have gotten those documents. And if Wagman never got those documents, Missouri taxpayers would be out $35,000. As it happens, Kinder ended up paying that money back.
This week on CoMo Explained, we try to explain how government transparency works and take a look at how Missouri stacks up against other states. Also, Ryan explains how he found himself facing a $29,000 bill while looking for state court documents.
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Links full of good stuff we talk about in the show:
- The St. Louis Beacon breaks down Missouri's transparency vs. other states
- Open records scandal in Governor Blunt's office
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch article on Peter Kinder's misuse of taxpayer money
- Some helpful links about the Missouri Sunshine Law
- Open Missouri, an amazing resource of government docs and stuff