Withheld e-mail may have violated Sunshine Law

Missouri Southern may have violated the state Sunshine Law in withholding an e-mail from an open-records request made by The Chart.

The e-mail, from the president of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Danny Weaver, to University President Bruce Speck, is dated Feb. 25 and expresses doubt that a proposed partnership with Southern would move forward.

“Speaking candidly, if a vote were taken today, it would fail!!,” Weaver wrote in the message.

The Chart requested all e-mail correspondence between Speck and Weaver and between Speck and Karen Pletz, the former president of KCUMB, who was fired in December, for the last two years. The request was acknowledged by University officials on March 15, and the documents were turned over to The Chart on April 7.

The Chart received a copy of the Feb. 25 e-mail from Weaver to Speck from a confidential source today. The e-mail was not included in documents provided by Southern although it falls within the scope of the open records request. Weaver confirmed the authenticity of the message by phone this afternoon.

“That’s an accurate e-mail,” Weaver said. “I sent that to Mr. Speck.”

Jean Maneke, an attorney with the Missouri Press Association, said intentional withholding of the document would constitute a violation of the law.

“If they don’t have an exception allowing them to not disclose it, it would violate the Sunshine Law,” she said.

University spokesperson Rod Surber said the e-mail was withheld on the advice of University counsel.

Speck was not immediately available for comment.