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Fri Apr 24, 2020, 02:48 AM

Judge blasts state of Missouri over 'blatant' violation of Sunshine Law

For more than four years, the state of Missouri staged a Sunshine Law battle that made no sense.

It started in early 2016, when Brooke Ganz, who runs a California-based nonprofit called Reclaim the Records, filed a simple request for open records. The organization builds databases of birth and death records from around the country that people can search for genealogy purposes. Missouri law says those records are public. The Department of Health and Senior Services over the years had fulfilled dozens of similar requests.

But not this time.

DHSS told Ganz her request would cost $1.4 million to gather the documents. Ganz hired an attorney, Bernie Rhodes of the Lathrop GPM law firm. Rhodes, of Kansas City, is a Sunshine Law expert. He did some research and figured out obtaining the records would literally take a few keystrokes at a computer. He protested the ridiculous charge ó a common tactic in Missouri when public officials donít want to release public documents. The state backed off and said the search would cost closer to $5,000.

Still too much, Rhodes said. So the state changed its mind. Now, DHSS officials said, the records were closed.

Read more: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/tony-messenger/messenger-judge-blasts-state-of-missouri-over-blatant-violation-of-sunshine-law/article_7ed40bb3-ea7b-5e0e-a0ab-7e41d06e7bf5.html

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