Friday, December 8, 2017

First In MOScout: McDowell for Auditor?

Saundra McDowell has formed an exploratory committee.  Word is that she’s looking at running for auditor.

McDowell is a lawyer from Springfield who now works as Director of Enforcement within the Securities Division of the Secretary of State's Office.  Before that she was with the Attorney General’s office.

I have written before that the front-runner David Wasinger has vulnerabilities in a Republican primary.  However it’s unclear if McDowell would be able to put the money together to exploit those weaknesses.  The path to victory between Wasinger’s money and Rep. Paul Curtman’s grass-roots is hard for me to see.


BOOM: KC Star Drops Bomb on Sanders Story

KC Star reports that former Jackson County Executive and one-time rising star of the Democratic State Party Mike Sanders “engineered an illegal kickback scheme that netted tens of thousands of dollars.” See it here.

Pull Quote: On Sanders’ instructions over the next three years, [Steve] Hill said, he cashed more than $60,000 in checks made out to him from bank accounts for Sanders-controlled political campaign committees. The money was ostensibly for work on those committees. But, Hill said, he never performed the work and instead returned most of the money to Sanders. The arrangement is the subject of a federal investigation that may be coming to a close after more than four years, The Star has learned. “He came to me one day and said, ‘Man, here’s what I want you to do: Go cash this check for me, man, keep $200 or $300 for yourself,’” Hill said during a nearly two-hour interview Wednesday night. “I thought about it for a minute. What the hell? All right, I’m in a wheelchair, man. I’m hurting for a few bucks. And $200 or $300 would help me out.”

The records showed Hill as being paid for “constituent research,” “voter education,” and “GOTV” activities, the initials standing for get-out-the-vote…. According to campaign reports on file with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Steve Hill received 14 payments totaling $52,275 from Sept. 7, 2010, to Dec. 4, 2013, from Integrity in Law Enforcement. He also received three payments totaling $6,950 in 2011 from Sanders’ personal campaign committee, Sanders for Jackson County… He cashed so many checks, he said, that a teller at the bank asked what he had done to earn all that money.  “I said, well, ‘I’m a political consultant,’ ” Hill said…

What It Means

Politically, not much at this point, one MOScouter explains: “He’s been gone long enough that there’s no impact…”

But schuckers, what a story of apparently just plain old greed…


House Committee Shuffling

With Rep. Rob Vescovo ascending to Floor Leader, he’s leaving his committees resulting in some change of memberships of those committee.

A highlight in the shuffling… two freshmen landed vice-chairmanships putting them in position to lead the committee down the line: Rep. Cody Smith (Fiscal Review) and Rep. Bruce DeGroot (Judiciary).


Q&A #1: Is Gov’s Office Use of Confide As Bad As It Sounds?

KC Star’s Jason Hancock wrote about the governor’s office using a messaging app called Confide which encrypts messages and claims to destroy them almost immediately.  (I say “claims” because while you don’t see the message on your phone anymore, please don’t be naïve folks and think all electronic footprints are gone.  Please.)

I’m curious if the technology has made the apparent disregard of sunshine laws seem more egregious than it really is.  All governors have attempted to conceal their inner workings to some extent.  One reader mentioned, for example, rumors of “burner phones” of a previous administration, temporary cell-phones used for a month then discarded.

The Case for No

This is not egregious. All government staff who also work campaigns carry two cell phones – one state issued and one for political and personal use. Political communications need to be held in confidence. It’s too easy to take a screen shot of text messages. Confide helps solve that problem. Years ago, staffers in the same positions were using Blackberry PIN for the same purpose. These stories are not organic. They are being pushed by the Governor’s enemies, which is how the game is always played.

The Case for Yes

State law.  Sections 190.210 and 190.240.

The Larger Point

Finally there’s a sense that this is just one more example of Team Greitens playing the game of politics with great passion, and yet not so rigorous in following principles of good government.

With their level of shadiness, it’s hard to excuse.  No one else had a dark money group and [governor plead guilty to ethics violation for possession of a still unexplained illegal donor list].  Part of the problem with [avoiding a paper trail] is it’s inefficient.  So hard to execute on governing.  That’s the consequence for avoiding transparency. With this, they cannot be in the office and freely communicating with the political side without fear of mixing state and political business.  It’s amazing how little they are in the office.


One question making the rounds: did the governor’s legal team sign off on using Confide?


MMJ Follow-Up

One intriguing question on the medical marijuana initiative petitions that appear headed for Missouri voters is: what happens if more than one of them pass, and you have two different constitutional amendments on the same topic.

One reader points to Article III, Section 51.  “The initiative shall not be used for the appropriation of money other than of new revenues created and provided for thereby, or for any other purpose prohibited by this constitution. Except as provided in this constitution, any measure proposed shall take effect when approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon. When conflicting measures are approved at the same election the one receiving the largest affirmative vote shall prevail.”

But he cautions with this nugget: My best guess is anyone that tells you for sure they know what is going to happen is too certain… [Probably the courts would] try to harmonize as much as possible I guess.


One medical marijuana observer looks at that potential chaos and wonders if the legislative route doesn’t make sense…

Rep. Dr. Jim Neely's MMJ proposal (HB 1554) is likely the serious vehicle for any cannabis legislation that moves through the Legislature this year. A three-term conservative lawmaker who is a doctor and Army veteran, Rep. Dr. Neely has unimpeachable credibility and bipartisan respect. He’s even been commended by President Donald Trump and VP Mike Pence for his work on Right-to-Try legislation, which is partially the framework for this medical cannabis proposal.

Will Republicans band behind Rep. Dr. Neely's proposal as a competitive policy alternative to Brad Bradshaw and New Approach Missouri's Constitutional IP proposals? Remember, most of the big checks for these campaigns (some of which would certainly come from out of state cannabis industry interests) haven’t been written yet...



Lobbyist Kevin Gunn has been working out in the off-season… See it here.


St. Louis Business Journal reports on a federal lawsuit challenging Missouri’s three-tier system for alcohol.  See it here.  This topic pops up in the legislature from session to session.


On Casenet, it appears that Democratic fundraiser Matt Lieberman faces five felony charges: 3 counts of “Unlawful Use Of Weapon,” and 2 counts of “Armed Criminal Action.”  His attorney is Travis Noble.


New Committees

Saundra McDowell for Missouri was formed.  It’s an exploratory committee.

Keep Government Accountable was formed.  It’s a PAC.  Its treasurer is Jan Swaney.

Peggy Sherwin formed a candidate committee (Sherwin For State Rep) to run for House 104 as a Democrat.  The current incumbent, Republican Rep. Kathie Conway, is termed.

Annie Rice formed a candidate committee (Annie Rice For STL) to run for alderman in St. Louis City as a Democrat.

Adrian Plank formed a candidate committee (Friends Of Adrian Plank) for House 47 as a Democrat.  The current incumbent is Republican Rep. Chuck Basye.

Helena Webb formed a candidate committee (Webb For House Rep) to run for House 100 as a Democrat. The current incumbent is Republican Rep. Derek Grier.

Dennis Gannon formed a candidate committee (Gannon For Jefferson County) to run for Jefferson County Executive as a Republican.


Lobbyists Registrations

Mark Farnen added Last Enterprises LLC, and Crockett Engineering Consultants.

Sam Wiles added John Beal Roofing.

Nathan Wright added Madsen & Wright Inc.

Susan Hensley deleted Pfizer Inc.


$5K+ Contributions

Missouri Democratic State Committee - $25,000 from UAW Region 5 PAC.

Elect Tim Brinker - $10,000 from Rockwood Management Corporation.

UAW Region 5 Midwest States Political Action Committee (PAC) (MO) - $6,000 UAW Region 5 Exchange Account.

Find The Cures - $60,000 from Bradley Bradshaw.

House Republican Campaign Committee Inc - $15,000 from Smithfield Foods Inc.



Happy birthdays to John Brunner, Patrick Bonnot, and Linda Rallo.

Saturday: Jeff Smith, Blake Lawrence, and Heidi Geisbuhler Sutherland.