Swingle calls for special prosecutor

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cape Girardeau County's prosecuting attorney, Morley Swingle, is calling for the Missouri attorney general's office to investigate 2nd District commissioner Jay Purcell for secretly recording county commission meetings.

In documents faxed to the Southeast Missourian on Monday afternoon, Swingle announced he wants the special prosecutor to investigate and possibly prosecute Purcell "and/or any others involved in alleged criminal activity in regard to the secret taping of closed sessions of the Cape Girardeau County Commission."

Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp made the appointment.

Making a recording of a properly closed meeting of a public government body without permission of the officials present is a Class C misdemeanor. Each offense carries a range of punishment from one to 15 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $300.

Purcell expressed surprise when informed at 6 p.m. Monday.

"It's interesting. I don't know why Morley didn't talk to me or call me. It's obvious people are playing hardball," Purcell said.

Purcell announced Saturday he would ask the attorney general for advice on what to do with the recordings. He said he started recording county commission meetings to provide a more accurate record of the minutes.

"I have to do what I think is right," Purcell said. "I'm very surprised. No one has consulted me [about the special prosecutor]."

He said no one from the county has asked him to verify what is on the recordings.

Swingle has not responded to voicemail messages regarding this story.

"I feel very confident I will be vindicated," Purcell said. "I'm a little concerned. We're playing hardball politics at the highest level. I'm going from [prosecuting attorney Morley Swingle], who has been giving me opinions on whether I should or should not release the recordings, to him calling for a special prosecutor — after I've said I'm going to the attorney general."

Look for further details in Tuesday's Southeast Missourian.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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