COLUMBIA — Just days after reports surfaced that a top aide of the governor's office knew about pollution levels at the Lake of the Ozarks, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon suspended the head of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Using words like "unconscionable" and "disgust," Nixon suspended Department of Natural Resources head Mark Templeton for two weeks without pay and announced an investigation into the department.
Nixon made the announcement in a conference call with the media today, during which his staff stated he would not take questions from reporters.
Templeton provided the governor's office with incorrect information regarding beach closures in late May due to unacceptable levels of E. coli, Nixon said in the call. The department claimed a beach at the Lake of the Ozarks had been closed during a period from May 18 - June 11 when it had not.
Nixon described both the failure to close the beach and the incorrect information as "the latest in a series of failures" by the department and said he was "angrier than words can describe."
The spokeswoman from the Department of Natural Resources testified that the aide knew about the high pollution levels May 29. Nixon has maintained that he didn't know until June 29.
The investigation will look into systemic problems within the Department of Natural Resources and possible solutions.