The Missouri attorney general’s office recently issued an opinion which Franklin County officials say “vindicates” them from a complaint filed by a former candidate for county office.
In June, Ron Keeven, at the time a Republican candidate for First District commissioner, filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office claiming the commission was violating the Missouri Sunshine Law when it holds administrative working sessions.
Patricia J. Churchill, chief governmental affairs counsel for the state, told the county that if there “is no discussion of public business by the members and the activities undertaken are purely ministerial or social, a quorum would not qualify as a public meeting.”
County Counselor Mark Vincent said the letter from Churchill reinforces the county’s existing policy of holding different types of meetings — regular public meetings, working sessions and administrative meetings that don’t involve policy discussions.
Following Keeven’s complaint, the state office wrote the county commission seeking copies of all notices, agendas and minutes from meetings from January to May of this year.
County officials at the time said they planned to comply with the request.
Vincent previously explained the unique nature of county commissions — where three people handle legislative, executive and ministerial duties.
“There is an exclusion of the public meetings law where it states the meetings don’t include informal gatherings,” he noted previously. “If what we do is wrong, we need guidance (from the attorney general).”
In recent weeks, the commission has held several “special meetings,” as noted on the county’s website. The agendas for those meetings are not posted, but Vincent said the meetings are open to the public.