March 6, 2020
St. Louis County on Wednesday entered into a consent judgment as part of an agreement to assure the public that Sunshine Law violations committed by the now imprisoned Steve Stenger and his administration will not occur again.
Many of the conditions outlined in the judgment are already being followed by the new administration. They include ensuring that the custodian of records for the County Executive’s office responds within three business days to an initial Sunshine request and creating a tracking device for all requests for public records. From the outset, County Executive Sam Page has made disclosure over closure a priority.
“Several months into my administration, we are still undoing the mess left by Mr. Stenger, who, with some of his staff members, flagrantly violated the Sunshine Law,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page. “We entered into this consent judgment to ensure the public that we are abiding with the Sunshine Law and that we understand public records must be shared and shared within the timeframes outlined in the law.”
Under the consent judgment, the County Executive and his staff will attend one presentation about the Sunshine Law sponsored by the Missouri Attorney General. That presentation will be recorded and placed on the county’s intranet for employees to view.
On January 17, 2018, the Missouri Attorney General sued former County Executive Steve Stenger’s office. Stenger, the county executive at the time of the suit, resigned from office April 29, 2019.
The suit alleged that Stenger’s office failed to correctly identify his office’s custodian of records despite requests from the public for that person’s name and contact information.
The suit also alleged that 14 times in 2017, Stenger’s office did not respond within three business days to requests for public records, and that his office did not make available for inspection or copy all records that were responsive to a public records request in October 2017.
“I’m glad we were able to resolve this issue with the attorney general’s office,” County Executive Page said. “Mr. Stenger repeatedly thumbed his nose at the law and this is the result of that action regarding the Sunshine Law. We appreciate the attorney general working with us to get this matter settled.”