The Senate committee investigating the circumstances behind the concealed E. coli tests at the Lake of the Ozarks, headed by Sen. Brad Lager, told the Columbia Tribune "You don’t fire low-level employees and protect political cronies.”
Nixon's press conference at the Lake of the Ozarks was marked by evasion
Lager was referring to the startling disparity in punitive measures taken in the Department of Natural Resources. Great efforts were taken to protect politically connected individuals like Jack Cardetti, Jeff Mazur, Mark Templeton and (initially, at least) Joe Bindbeutel.
Jack Cardetti and Jeff Mazur were both caught lying to the public about their knowledge of the test results - the most blatant instance of deception during E.Coli-Gate. They both escaped punishment completely, while numerous others were disciplined or fired. Even more were caught up in the DNR's 're-organization', mass firings of people who actually did their jobs. Remarkably, politically connected employees managed to keep their jobs, regardless of job performance.
If we apply the same standards used to punish non-political employees to Nixon’s aides and appointees, they would have been fired. When Nixon protected them he sent a clear and unequivocal message to the public: His cronies have no obligation to be honest to you, even when it means risking public safety. The image of his administration is more important.
The Nixon Administration offered a non-response to Lager’s statement, which included this gem: "For the first time, people at the DNR are being held accountable for those issues." Never mind that most of the characters involved either worked in Nixon's office or were Nixon appointees, and they were the ones trying to keep the DNR from being held accountable.
The Nixon Administration repeatedly lied to the public. When they got caught, the people who should have lost their jobs didn’t, and people who should have kept their jobs got fired. No problems have been solved. If the only reason the Lake of the Ozarks was cleaned up is months of press scrutiny, how do we know that this sort of issue won’t happen again? How do we know that it hasn’t already?
That’s the underlying problem: we can’t trust our Governor’s administration. If it can’t admit that it lied, even when everyone in the room knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that its representatives intentionally misled the public, there is absolutely no chance that it has reformed itself.