|St. Louis – Janet Renner of Missourians Against Illegal Immigration (MAII) filed another Sunshine request with Governor Jay Nixon's office this time requesting all of the e-mails of Chief of Staff John Watson from January 12, 2009 until February 16, 2009. The MAII request came after Governor Jay Nixon's office notified MAII that there were no e-mails, documents, phone logs, notes or other responsive documents in the governor's office related to the nomination of pro-illegal immigration lawyer Linda M. Martinez of St. Louis to head the department of economic development.
"Against the interest of those Missouri citizens who feel that illegal immigration is a threat to American jobs, Governor Nixon and his office undertook a coordinated and concerted effort to confirm Nixon's pro-illegal alien nominee as the head the department of economic development" said Renner, the president and founder of MAII. "This effort by the Governor and his staff reportedly included meetings by Chief of Staff John Watson with Senator Scott Rupp and phone calls by Watson to St. Charles County elected officials including County Executive Steve Ehlmann. But when MAII requested any and all documents, phone logs or any other responsive documents under the Missouri Sunshine Law, Nixon's office replied that there are no such records. MAII finds this response of the Governor's office hard to believe and has made this new Sunshine request in order to better understand the efforts undertaken by Mr. Watson."
If Nixon or his office destroyed or withheld documents in violation of the Sunshine Law, Attorney General Chris Koster must investigate the violations. For this reason, Koster was copied on the letter.
The three Missouri Senators (Cunningham, Rupp, Lembke) who publicly objected to the appointment of Martinez were copied on the letter as were two advocates for stronger enforcement of Sunshine Laws – State Representative Tim Jones and Missouri Press Association's Doug Crews.
After weeks of debate and delay the Missouri Senate confirmed the appointment of Martinez on February 10, 2009. She had been the acting director since Nixon took office. The department she heads is responsible for the state’s job-growth and economic-development efforts and awards hundreds of millions of dollars each year in tax credits and other incentives.
Counter to the action of MAII, St. Louis faith and community leaders have joined the nationwide movement entitled "Prayer, Renewal and Action on Immigration." The group is planning a prayer vigil outside of Senator Claire McCaskill's St. Louis office this morning (February 18) calling on the new administration "to demonstrate moral courage on immigration reform." According to a release by Jennifer Rafanan, executive director of Missouri Immigration & Refugee Advocates of St. Louis, "Immigrant families and workers are living in a state of fear, constantly worrying about the next raid that would rip parents and children apart, or how the increasing anti-immigrant sentiment will impact their families."