Missouri Pro-Life Group Accuses Robin Carnahan of Violating Sunshine Law
by Steven Ertelt
February 17, 2009
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — The Missouri Roundtable for Life is unhappy with pro-abortion Secretary of State Robin Carnahan for writing biased language introducing its constitutional amendment. Now the group says Carnahan has violated Missouri’s Sunshine Law by ignoring its request for information.
Missouri Roundtable for Life has sponsored a state constitutional amendment to ban the use of tax funding of abortion and problematic bioethics practices like human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.
Carnahan wrote language for the ballot that is biased and could persuade some voters to oppose the proposal because it is not written fairly.
The group filed a request under state law to find out more information about whether or not outside groups influenced Carnahan’s decision to write the biased ballot language.
The pro-life organization says Carnahan has violated Missouri’s Sunshine Law by ignoring the request and it is calling it an abuse of power. It accuses the state official of working with other groups to hurt the ballot proposal and says a Carnahan staffer admitted as much.
"Carnahan has abused her power in re-writing our simple forty-four word amendment and her staff has admitted that she did this in consultation with special interest groups like Planned Parenthood," MRFL director Todd Jones told LifeNews.com.
"Now, Ms. Carnahan is ignoring the Sunshine Law and going so far as to not even respond to the citizen request. This is abuse of power run amok and Ms. Carnahan must be stopped," he added.
MRFL has forwarded its letter to Attorney General Chris Koster as his office is charged with investigating violations of that law.
UPDATE — Hours after the Missouri Roundtable for Life send its letter, it received a communication from Carnahan stating that her office was working on the request but could produce no responsive documents at this time.
The group says this response, dated February 13, 2009, is technically within the law but is odd considering what it says is Carnahan’s staff’s admissions about their conduct.
"While we appreciate Ms. Carnahan’s response in a timely manner, we are concerned by her non-response at this time," Jones said.
"Missourians remember that Ms. Carnahan and her staff have publicly stated in recent weeks that they consult with special interest groups during the process of doing the work of the people of Missouri and that those special interests like Planned Parenthood have stepped forward to make comment about Ms. Carnahan’s efforts," Jones told LifeNews.com.
"But now, when we ask for the public documents related to this consultation, Ms. Carnahan and her staff are unable to provide them. This should make Missourians question exactly how Ms. Carnahan is continuing to abuse her power," he continued.
Meanwhile, the Missouri Roundtable for Life has filed suit against Carnahan for writing MRFL’s "pro-life taxpayer protection" amendment.
The language Carnahan proposed says the amendment would "make it illegal for the Legislature or state or local governments to expend, pay or grant public funds to hospitals or other institutions for certain research and services … such as abortion services, including those necessary to save the life of the mother, and certain types of stem cell research currently allowed under Missouri law."
This proposal could have a significant negative fiscal impact on state and local governmental entities by prohibiting the use of public funds for certain research activities," the description, which sounds like an argument against the ballot measure, says further.
"Federal grants to state governmental entities for research and medical assistance programs may be in jeopardy. The total costs to state and local governmental entities are unknown," it adds negatively.
Backers of the amendment have to get signatures from registered Missouri voters to get the pro-life measure on the ballot. The amount of signatures is equal to eight percent of the total votes cast in the 2008 governors election from six of the states nine congressional districts.
The amendment is partially a response to Amendment 2 that voters very narrowly approved in 2006 that allows human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.
There is some concern that the amendment could trump current state laws against funding such practices and that concern prompted the group to sponsor the new amendment.
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