In the past several months, a barrage of formal complaints have been made against both the Camden County Commission and Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd for repeated violations of Chapter 610 of the Missouri State Statutes, commonly known as the Sunshine Law. Local business owner Theresa Townsend has filed many of these, although she has not been alone in these complaints. Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber has made his own formal complaint to the office of the Attorney General, as have other citizens of Camden County. While there has yet to be any action taken by Casey Lawrence, Sunshine Law Coordinator of state Attorney General Chris Koster, she has issued letters indicating that her investigations of these complaints have revealed wrongdoing on the part of local government officials. In fact, of Theresa Townsend’s first seven complaints, all were found to be credible, despite claims made by the outgoing Presiding Commissioner to the contrary. A pattern of illegal behavior has been revealed through these complaints and the subsequent investigations into the Commission and the actions of Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd.
On casual review, the written minutes provided by Todd are lazy, incomplete and, in some cases, completely inaccurate. This manipulation of the official record is illustrated time and again.
This is to say nothing of his efforts to skirt the Sunshine Law.
As of this writing, it has been 95 days since a Sunshine request was made for former Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken’s email records. That request, made by Theresa Townsend, was first made in the middle of May. In what appears to be political gamesmanship, Todd completely disregarded MO State Statute. Sunshine Law requires that any request for records be answered in three days. It does not stipulate that requested records be made available in three days, only that an answer to the request be penned in that time frame. In this case, that means that Todd had only to write an email response, indicating that the request for records had been forwarded to the correct department(s) and that the data was being collected and prepared for taxpayer review.
Todd waited a full 17 days to respond to this request.
This was not the first time that Todd has acted outside the law in regard to record reviews. Earlier this year, when another request was made to review billing from county attorney Charles McElyea, Todd illegally halted citizens from examining these records. After initially allowing this record review, Todd then stopped it, after receiving a phone call from McElyea himself. According to accounts, Todd claimed McElyea threatened a lawsuit against the county if this review was allowed to proceed.
This is a crime, as outlined clearly by Missouri State Statutes.
Rowland Todd has repeatedly and without apology, abused the public trust. He has acted not as the keeper of records, but instead as a gatekeeper between the taxpayers and the truth. Todd has consistently blocked and stymied attempts by Camden County citizens to conduct lawful and legal reviews of government records. He has acted in collusion with government officials who seem to have something to hide from the public who pays them.
Rowland Todd is up for re-election in November of this year. If his bid is successful, the citizens of Camden County can expect that he will continue to create illegal roadblocks to keep taxpayers in the dark. Todd has become the gatekeeper for those who choose to abuse the trust bestowed to those elected to office. Instead of being the gateway to transparency in government, Todd has instead proven himself to be the gatekeeper, actively working to conceal the actions of those collecting taxpayer dollars in shadows.
Todd has clearly demonstrated, through his own actions, a willingness to put special interests and personal agendas before his duty to the citizens of Camden County.