Representation in legislative assemblies is the bedrock of our constitutional form of government. Unfortunately, Missouri governors have in recent years been too willing to leave this state’s citizens without proper representation in Missouri’s Legislature. This is a bipartisan problem. In 2014, the Freedom Center of Missouri sued Governor Jay Nixon for refusing to call for elections that would allow voters to fill four vacant seats in the Legislature. The lawsuit ultimately prompted Nixon to schedule the elections. The state’s current governor, Mike Parson, recently created multiple legislative vacancies and announced that he would not call special elections to fill those vacancies. Freedom Center director of litigation, Dave Roland, authored an op-ed in the Kansas City Star calling on the governor to uphold constitutional principles by letting the voters choose new representatives.
The Freedom Center also partnered with Southeast Legal Foundation to file a new open records lawsuit against St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. Prominent journalist John Solomon asked Gardner’s office to produce records related to communications between the circuit attorney’s office and a number of prominent politicians and political donors in advance of Gardner filing criminal charges against then-Governor Eric Greitens. Gardner’s office has not denied the existence of the requested records, but has claimed they are exempt from disclosure because they are part of the now-closed criminal file. This position is indefensible—people have the right to know if the circuit attorney’s handling of the prosecution was driven by political concerns.