Missouri Governor’s Office Responds to Open Records Request on Contact with White House During Ferguson Protests

NO PHONE CALLS EXCHANGED?

by Sharon Rondeau

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is serving his second term as governor after serving for four terms as the state’s attorney general

(Dec. 28, 2014) — On August 9, 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson in what Wilson told a grand jury was self-defense after Brown charged at him twice, attempted to take his gun, and punched him in the face.

After the incident, Wilson was not seen in public and received multiple death threats, some of which originated from out-of-state through social media.  On November 21, The Washington Post described Wilson as having “mastered a disappearing act since [the] shooting” in an article highly criticized by some of its readers at the time.

The Post ruminated as to why Wilson had not appeared to testify at a trial involving “an alleged low-level drug dealer” and other trials in which he would have been a witness, then reported that Wilson is “on paid leave.”

Without delving into Brown’s history, The Post’s Chico Harlan, who routinely “covers personal economics as part of The Post’s financial team,” described Wilson’s family as “far-flung” and “fractured.”

Brown’s family is also fractured, with his parents living apart and a stepfather, Louis Head, who urged, while being filmed on camera, the “burning down” of Ferguson following the announcement on November 24 that the grand jury considering the evidence had declined to issue a “True Bill” of indictment against Wilson.

Although Brown reportedly did not have a criminal record, GotNews.com and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch filed a lawsuit to obtain his alleged juvenile record.  GotNews’s Charles C. Johnson alleges that “Michael Brown’s family members have been revealed to be members of the Blood gang and have criminal records of their own. He’s got a history of calling for violence against women and brags about beating people up on Instagram.”

Brown reportedly matched the description of the individual who robbed a convenience store and manhandled the clerk minutes before Wilson encountered Brown and a friend walking down the middle of the street.  Wilson reportedly asked the two men to walk on the sidewalk and was ignored.

Wilson told the grand jury that Brown was holding cigars reported stolen in the convenience store before asking his friend, Dorian Johnson, to hold them, at which point a struggle ensued in which Brown reportedly tried to take Wilson’s gun.

After Head’s address to the crowd, 21 fires were set throughout Ferguson, and grocery stores, specialty shops, and a strip mall were raided and destroyed in rioting.   Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, is reportedly a suspect in a robbery and beating of a store owner related to Brown’s father who was selling T-shirts imprinted with the message, “Justice for Michael Brown.”

Gunfire was also reported on the evening of the announcement, and protests arose across the country which yielded more than 400 arrests.

Grand juries are tasked by the Fifth Amendment to act as an independent, unbiased body to review evidence of a serious crime to determine whether or not probable cause exists to formally charge the individual by presentment or indictment.  The St. Louis County grand jury which reviewed evidence and heard testimony from witnesses in the case was seated prior to Brown’s death.

Wilson has since resigned from the Ferguson Police Department and his future plans are unknown.  In a November 26 interview, Wilson told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he and his new wife are expecting their first child next year.

On November 29, The Post & Email sent a Missouri Sunshine Law request to the office of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon requesting records of phone calls and emails exchanged between Nixon and White House personnel between November 1 and November 29, 2014.

On December 4, we received a letter by email signed by Peter Lyskowski, Nixon’s Deputy Chief of Staff, stating that more time would be required to assemble the responsive documents and guaranteeing a final response by December 18.  Missouri Sunshine Law Request

On December 26, The Post & Email received an envelope via the U.S. Postal Service with a cover letter from Lyskowski and accompanying responsive documents, although there were no records of phone calls between Nixon and anyone in the White House.

Also on November 29, amidst reports that senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and Nixon had maintained “close contact…as the chaotic situation unfolded” in Ferguson, “The Post & Email contacted White House Media Affairs by email and asked the following:

I have a question about the following report:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/11/26/Confirmed-Valerie-Jarrett-Keeping-Tabs-On-Gov-Nixon-In-Ferguson-Fiasco

which states that “Valerie [Jarrett] spoke to Governor Nixon both last night and this morning, and has been briefing the President on an ongoing basis since last night,” Schultz said, speaking to reporters on Air Force One. “And in each of those conversations with Governor Nixon, Valerie has pledged to stay in close coordination with the Governor in making sure that he’s getting the support he needs from the federal government.”

Are you able to say or find out why Valerie Jarrett was in communication with Gov. Nixon?  What “support” was needed in Ferguson from the federal government?

Is there a record of their phone calls?

Is there a way to ask Mr. Schultz if he believes that the “response” in Ferguson to the announcement of the grand jury’s decision was “appropriate and constructive?”

Thank you.

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
www.thepostmail.com

While the White House Media Affairs staff responded promptly to our request for clarification on Obama’s “executive actions” declared on November 20 on changing deportation policy without an act of Congress, we received no response to the query regarding Nixon and Jarrett.

The documents received from Lyskowski follow.

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