JJ submitted a public records request to the Mississippi Highway Patrol for any correspondence in 2016 with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerning the DUI enforcement grants last Friday. MHP gave its answer yesterday:
For the past two months, the Mississippi Highway Patrol has been conducting an internal investigation into paperwork filed in a federally-funded initiative targeting impaired motorists. This is an on-going investigation. As such, pursuant to exemptions in the Mississippi Public Records Act, we cannot release information regarding this investigation at this time. Therefore, your request is denied at this time.
One does not expect the agency to hand over actual investigative records while the investigation is in progress. However, suppose NHTSA notified MHP that it was cutting off the grant or was seeking reimbursement. Surely such notices are not covered by the investigative exemption, are they? MHP says such notices are:
The documents you are requesting are part of the investigation and are exempt from the Open Records Act.
One of the troopers accused of submitting the phony tickets is none other than Master Sergeant Field Marshall Pack. Pack has a rather colorful history at the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. He was fired twice while at MHP. He was fired in 1995 for having sex with a confidential informant BUT he was reinstated because other officers who liked to have sex on the job were not fired. He was fired again in 2001 for um, "seizing cash from a potential target without accounting for the seizure", participating in sexually explicit behavior during a vacation in Florida, and not reporting drug activity while on said vacation. However, he appealed his dismissal and won reinstatement and back pay.
It is not known if the other troopers like to read Horton Hears a Who or if they like to visit Houston.
Kingfish note: Sources say NHTSA has terminated the grant and is seeking reimbursement. Such information should not be withheld from the taxpayers with a bogus excuse that such notices are part of an "investigation". This is not the first time MHP has gotten in trouble with NHTSA for misusing the DUI-enforcement grant. Earlier post with copy of IG report. The number thrown around is $9 million. However, that is completely unconfirmed. The purpose of public records request at times is to confirm such rumors. However, it appears MHP has no interest in letting the public and its leaders know whether Mississippi will have to repay millions of dollars when times are tight.
This is also a good reason why the Mississippi Supreme Court should overturn the ruling the Court of Appeals ruling in the DMR records case. The opinion placed no limits on what records could be called "investigative". Hell, a D.A. could seize the minutes and budget of a city council but according to the Court of Appeals, they would no longer be public records. The Mississippi Supreme Court should reverse the Court or Appeals or at least spell out some limits for the holding.