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Missouri's Republican senators investigate Lake of the Ozarks E. coli cover-up

JEFFERSON CITY — Some top Republican senators want to know why a state agency didn't release a report showing dangerously high E. coli levels at the Lake of the Ozarks last summer.

But after a six-month investigation and a five-hour hearing Tuesday, answers about the cover-up at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources remained as murky as dirty lake water, Republican senators said.

Sen. Brad Lager of northwest Missouri, chairman of the environmental committee, said the lingering questions may prove costly to the department.

"If you look at what has happened, the violation of the public trust, the endangerment of the citizens and visitors of this state," Lager said, "how this General Assembly could in good faith give additional resources to this dysfunctional of a department is wishful thinking."

That's a timely threat: DNR is facing a financial crisis and is asking to raise fees in this year's legislative session.

But Democrats on the committee, led by Sens. Joan Bray and Tim Green of the St. Louis area, contended that the investigation had been politicized and looked too narrowly at one recent incident of withheld water-sampling results.

At a news conference Tuesday called to announce a jobs proposal, Gov. Jay Nixon also suggested the hearing was politically motivated.

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