County Assessor Alleges Sunshine Law Violation

(file photo, Taney County Assessor Chuck Pennel)
(file photo, Taney County Assessor Chuck Pennel)
(file photo, Taney County Presiding Commissioner Ron Houseman)
(file photo, Taney County Presiding Commissioner Ron Houseman)

FORSYTH, Mo. – Taney County Assessor Chuck Pennel issues a statement Monday alleging county commissioners of violating the Missouri Sunshine Law.

According to a report, an employee in the assessor’s office identified as Jimmy Harding filed a complaint against Pennel for “preaching and quoting scripture” during the course of his employment. He later filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The county commission released the complaint to a media official and contacted Pennel who then issued a statement on Monday saying:

“It is my understanding that an EEOC complaint is a private matter, unless the complainant chooses to make it public. Furthermore, I was not informed of the pending release of this notice.”

Pennel talked with Hometown Daily News about the allegations:

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Presiding Commissioner Ron Houseman refutes the allegations:

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When asked if the allegations had anything to do with his race in the Primary Election, Houseman had this to say:

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Pennel went on to say in his statement:

“The recent poor report from the State Auditor included more violations of the Sunshine Law by (the commissioners). Now, right before an important election, the commissioners have again done as they’ve pleased, with impunity.”
Full story here: http://mp3/template_maxi/player_mp3_maxi.swf

 

Full statement issued by Pennel:

Last Wednesday afternoon the County Clerk informed me that the County Commission had released a Notice of Charge of Discrimination from the EEOC to the Branson Tri-Lakes News. The next day a reporter called asking about the Notice. I explained that I was not comfortable speaking about it without the advice of counsel.

It is my understanding that an EEOC complaint is a private matter, unless the complainant chooses to make it public.

Futhermore, I was not informed of the pending release of this Notice – such is the contempt in which the Commission holds some of its fellow elected officials.

Moreover, as a former Commissioner, I know that it takes two commissioners to approve an action such as releasing this matter to the press. Yet, I cannot find an agenda item when the County Commission discussed it.

It seems that the Taney County Commission has once again ignored the Sunshine Law.

Three years ago this last March two of our Commissioners were reported to the Attorney General for violating the Sunshine Law. Little was done. Then, the recent poor report from the State Auditor included more violations of the Sunshine Law by them.

Now, right before an important election, the Commissioners have again done as they’ve pleased, with impunity.

Our county commission apparently has nothing but contempt for the Sunshine Law and privacy for employees.

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