Missouri Completes Post-Dispatch Investigation Over ‘Hacking’ Charge

ST. LOUIS – The Missouri State Highway Patrol ended its investigation into the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after Governor Mike Parson accused the newspaper of “hacking” a database of educators.

The problem arose after a Post-Dispatch reporter discovered a flaw in a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website that left more than 100,000 social security numbers of educators vulnerable to disclosure.

Parson condemned the find in October, although the newspaper has refrained from discussing it until the state can fix the issue. He then asked the Missouri State Highway Patrol to investigate the case.

On Monday, the Post-Dispatch reported that the agency had completed its investigation and forwarded the results to Cole County District Attorney Locke Thompson.

The newspaper’s president and editor, Ian Caso, previously issued a statement defending the Post-Dispatch and its reporter.

“It is unfortunate that the governor chose to blame journalists who discovered the website problem and brought it to the attention of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education,” the statement said.

The Post-Dispatch reported that DESE spokeswoman Mallory McGowin planned to thank the newspaper for discovering the database flaw.

The newspaper said it got an email McGowin sent to Parson’s office on October 12. The email contained proposals for press releases, indicating that DESE was “grateful” to the journalist. The quote was not used and Parson instead accused the reporter of hacking into the system.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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