County, city leaders handling Rams settllement money behind closed doors
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A multi-million dollar pay day over the Rams relocation lawsuit is changing from the initial excitement to frustration since what’s happening with that money remains a mystery.
In 2017 the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the Regional Convention and Sports Authority (RSA) sued Stan Kroenke and the NFL over the Ram’s relocation to Los Angeles. In November 2021 they agreed to a settlement where St. Louis would receive $790 million dollars. After attorney fees, the city, county, and RSA were left to split $513 million.
It’s been more than three months since the settlement. News 4 Investigates learned the money has been sitting in a trust, that’s all that’s being publicly released and talks are being kept confidential between St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, and leaders from the RSA.
“We’re not losing money in the trust,” Page said during a press conference earlier in the week. “I have nothing new to report on this other than negotiations on how to split those funds will continue, there’s no rush.”
Members of the city and county council say they’re being kept in the dark.
“We’ve asked for input, we’ve asked for information, all we’ve hit is a wall of silence,” said St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch.
Fitch says he’s requested meetings with Page and the County Counselor but has been told they can’t talk to him about the money.
“There is no transparency whatsoever in how this is being discussed,” Fitch said. “I’ve received I can’t tell you how many e-mails and phone calls saying, ‘what’s going on with this money, are they going to try and squirrel it away or use it on some special pet project?’”
The county, city, and RSA all tell News 4 Investigates they won’t publically talk about the money because it’s a legal matter, which it makes it closed to the public.
“I think the public has a right to know what these negotiations look like,” said Director of Government Accountability at Show-Me Institute Patrick Patrick Ishmael. “If they’re having negotiations and discussions among their representatives about where this money is going there is no reason they should not be open and honest about what is being discussed.”
Ishmael believes Missouri’s Sunshine law should open the door to these records, but he says the law can also be misused.
“I think that the sunshine law is unfortunately sometimes used as a shield by government,” Ishmael added.
News 4 Investigates sent Sunshine requests to the city, county, and RSA asking for records on what’s happening with the settlement money. The city responded saying it needs more time to review the request. Both the county and RSA declined to release any records claiming it “relates to legal action” and which is exempt from disclosure under the Sunshine law.
“I’m not exactly sure that even the claim that there is a legal barrier to them releasing what’s being discussed even applies in this case,” Ishmael said.
No one involved in these talks agreed to an interview with News 4 Investigates.
Councilman Fitch said he’s not going to stop pushing for answers.
“We’re going to keep trying to get the information,” Fitch said.
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