St. Louis Public Radio News
1:33 pm
Fri August 28, 2009

Mo. Senate committee continues E. coli inquiry

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Senate committee looking into the delaying of an E. coli report from the Lake of the Ozarks met again today via conference call.

But committee members spent much of the meeting debating why they're looking into the matter.

Brad Lager (R, Savannah), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment, reiterated that they are not conducting an investigation...that they are only reviewing what happened to see if any policy changes are needed.

State Senator Joan Bray (D, St. Louis), who called in from South Africa, wasn't buying it.

"Interviewing employees where it was going to be three or four people from the Senate, including one lawyer, and yet the employee couldn't have anybody with them?" Bray asked.

Bray called that arrangement very intimidating. Lager tried to reassure Bray.

"Senator, if we ever get to the point where we believe that we have found something that justifies a criminal investigation; we're stopping...that's not what this committee is here for, there are people who do that," Lager said.

State Senator Matt Bartle (R, Lee's Summit) says the DNR is partially to blame for the image the proceedings are causing by insisting that lawyers be present for any interviews by the committee.

In addition to seeking access to DNR employees, the senate committee has requested emails and written documents. So far, they've received more than 200,000 pages of documents.