News 4 Investigates: St. Louis leaders keeping Rams settlement money secret
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Wednesday marks four months since Stan Kroenke signed the nearly $1 billion deal settling the Rams relocation lawsuit, but what’s happening with that money is a mystery.
In 2016 the Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles. The next year St. Louis City, County, and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) sued the NFL and Kroenke over the move.
Last November, they reached a $790 million settlement. After lawyer fees, St. Louis is left with about $513 million dollars.
Since the settlement , city and county leaders in charge of the funding have been leaving taxpayers in the dark.
“There’s no rush on that right now, we’re all really busy,” said St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page.
Page said the county has been focused on figuring out how to spend the $193 million they were awarded in American Rescue Plan funding. According to the county, $85 million has not been appropriated yet.
The county, city, and RSA claim they’re trying to decide how to split the Rams settlement money. That process has been going on for four months.
“Right now the conversation is the proper way to divide the settlement,” Page said.
News 4 Investigates asked Page if he thought taxpayers should be involved in the conversation about who gets how much.
“The conversation and litigation generally involves the plaintiffs,” Page answered. “The conversation on how to spend the money from the litigation will involve communication with the citizens.”
Secrecy around the settlement isn’t new.
A recent News 4 investigation exposed growing concern as some elected leaders said they shouldn’t be shut out of talks, but have been. During an interview with News 4, St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch said he’s been trying to get information about the settlement for months.
“I’ve received I can’t tell you how many emails 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,” Fitch said.
Fitch said he did not trust what was going on with the money.
“Absolutely not,” Fitch said. “There is no transparency whatsoever in how this is being discussed.”
There wasn’t much transparency last week at the RSA’s monthly meeting. The public agenda noted the RSA would go into a closed session during the meeting. During the public part of the meeting, News 4 cameras captured a different agenda that was given to commissioners. That agenda showed that during the closed session the RSA would discuss “settlement funds update.”
After the meeting News 4 tried to ask the Executive Director of the RSA, Brian McMurtry, about the money.
“We can’t say anything. It’s obviously a confidential agreement so there’s nothing new to report,” McMurtry said.
When News 4 asked McMurtry is he thought taxpayers had a right to know, McMurtry didn’t answer and walked away.
News 4 has been trying to get more information about the settlement and reached out to all three entities involved. Both the county and RSA responded that the settlement is a legal action, meaning it doesn’t have to be publicly discussed. The city told News 4 it needs more time to look into the request.
Missouri sunshine law states settlements are not exempt from public disclosure.
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