JEFFERSON CITY — In 2017, a prisoner in Farmington Correctional Center wrote to the state auditor’s office. The handwritten letter made a formal request for records related to the prison’s medical provider.
“This information I obtain through this request will be used to build a suit against the inadequate medical treatment that Corizon Healthcare provides,” the prisoner wrote.
It’s not clear if he went through with a lawsuit. But regardless, the auditor’s office wasn’t much help.
“We do not have any documents responsive to your request,” the prisoner was told.
The note and the reply were included in a large trove of documents posted online by state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office Friday. They included about 400 requests made to the auditor under the Missouri Sunshine Law, as well as her office’s responses.
There are over 200,000 pages, covering a period from August 2015 to early January, with more to come. New documents will be posted on a rolling basis, which is a first for Missouri statewide elected officials, according to a news release from the auditor’s office.
Galloway said in a statement that her office is setting a new standard for transparency.
“This is the public’s business, and it should be publicly accessible,” she said.
Galloway’s office has also never charged fees for a Sunshine Law request, according to the release.
Missouri’s Sunshine Law governs public information and meetings in the state. It requires that both be open and accessible, with some exceptions. News organizations use the law to obtain data, documents, emails and other records kept by public entities.
Jean Maneke, counsel for the Missouri Press Association, called the move “a public service to Missouri’s citizens.”
“Government at all levels should strive to be as transparent as possible with the data they hold, given that it is taxpayer-generated and taxpayer-owned,” she said in a statement. “Missouri Press Association thinks this is a forward step for state government.”
Journalists looking for scoops were well-represented in the documents Galloway released. But they were far from the only ones. Among others asking for records were lawyers, local government officials and private citizens.
Opposition researchers also made an appearance.
In January 2016, a staffer with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee asked for audits of the Secretary of State’s Office. The request spanned 1985 to 1993, the years when now-Sen. Roy Blunt was in charge.
It was an election year, but the 100 or so pages of dusty financial statements apparently didn’t hurt him much. Blunt won re-election to the Senate that November, beating his Democratic challenger, then-Secretary of State Jason Kander, by about 78,000 votes.
A Las Vegas-based company, Disclosure Associates LLC, also made two Sunshine Law requests in September 2017 and January 2018 apparently aimed at Galloway herself.
The first sought travel and office expenses, vehicle records, non-salary payments, requests for proposals and audits of the auditor herself. Also any use of a state plane. (None, according to the reply.)
The second asked for text messages to and from Galloway, which yielded a few mundane exchanges about scheduling.
A call to Disclosure Associates seeking comment was not returned Friday.
The documents released by Galloway’s office can be found on the auditor’s website.