The attorney general's office is expected to determine if the city responded appropriately.
The Missouri Attorney General’s office is looking into a complaint filed by an alderman against the city of Osage Beach for an alleged violation of the state’s Sunshine Law.
The complaint involves copies of text messages requested by outgoing Alderman Jeff Bethurem from the cell phones provided by or are reimbursed by the city. The request for cell phone records of text messages was one of several filed with the city by Bethurem in December of 2018.
According to Bethurem the city did provide some of the requested cell phone records with text messages but did not fulfill the entire request. The complaint alleges the city is violating the Sunshine Law by not properly retaining records of text messages that should be treated the same as email. The attorney general’s office is expected to determine if the city responded appropriately.
Osage Beach City Administrator Jeana Woods acknowledged the city had been notified of the complaint by the attorney general’s office. In a statement, she said,“On March 15, 2019, the city of Osage Beach was informed that the Missouri Attorney General’s Office is reviewing a complaint made by Jeff Bethurem regarding compliance with the Sunshine Law. I am confident we handle all Sunshine Law requests at the City of Osage Beach per RSMo Chapter 610. We intend to provide a written response to this complaint and any information necessary to assist their office in the review.”
Bethurem said “At this time I do not wish to comment on the investigation into possible sunshine violations by the city of Osage Beach. I believe that the Attorney General’s office will conduct a thorough and detailed investigation into the allegations of a sunshine violation.”
He said he looks forward to the attorney general’s interpretation of the law.
According to the attorney general’s office, the city has until April 5 to file a written response to the complaint, along with providing any relevant documentation. A response from the attorney general’s office could take up to a few months.
The requests for documents were filed by Bethurem after he was accused of filing a false statement of candidacy.
The charge stemmed from an anonymous set of documents that were allegedly given to the city of Osage Beach in September. The same documents were sent to the Lake Sun in October. The documents were not signed and no return address was provided.
Bethurem had been charged with signing a false statement of candidacy. The charge alleged Bethurem knowingly signed the statement with the knowledge that he had a past felony conviction in another state. The charge was filed by the Camden County Prosecuting Attorney’s office but was later changed to perjury after it was found that the law he was accused of breaking didn’t apply to municipal officials.
The charge was dismissed by Moniteau Associate Circuit Court Judge Aaron Martin. The case was assigned to Martin after three judges in the 26th Judicial Circuit were recused.
Bethurem had publicly stated prior to the dismissal of the charge that he thought the felony conviction had been expunged.
The text messages and emails requested by Bethurem were during that same time period.