Thursday, December 14, 2017

Q&A #1: Where’s Rex?

Short answer: Not on MEC reports.

 

A few years ago it seemed that Rex Sinquefield’s fingerprints, footprints or checks were everywhere.  He dominated the donor scene.  And when campaign finance laws clamped down briefly, he defiantly created a hundred PACs to circumvent them.

Those days are gone.  Last cycle Sinquefield was eclipsed by David Humphreys who charged ahead – successfully – pushing right to work and tort reform.  Now with the 2018 cycle approaching, Sinquefield’s profile remains low, almost invisible compared to his previous silhouette.

It seems that his focus – which is said to be directed by his long-time advisor Travis Brown – has gone in other directions.  He’s gone national in some respects: engaging in tax policy fights in other states, getting involved in national organizations.  And he’s still a force locally: helping advance the idea of privatizing Lambert airport, and funding his think-tank, The Show-Me Institute.

But a look at the Missouri Ethics donor database shows a lot less money flowing to candidate than it once did.

Not that he couldn’t return.  A large donor like Sinquefield – or Humphreys – could shake up the auditor’s race, for example.  Right now Rep. Paul Curtman doesn’t have the resources to compete with David Wasinger.  I expect this fact to be reinforced when we see January Quarter reports.  A mega-donor could set up a third-party committee and level the playing field.  But there’s no indication that Sinquefield is contemplating getting involved.

 

Greene County Mess

I know I’m late to this story… Last week Auditor Nicole Galloway announced that “her office recently received credible information through the Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline to indicate public officials conducted inappropriate activities related to the ballot measure. County employees allegedly performed or were asked to perform duties related to the Invest in Greene County Political Action Committee advocating for the measure, including accepting PAC donations in county offices during work hours….”

Galloway asked to conduct an audit to uncover the potential misdeeds.  Now some are worried that the Commission is circling the wagon.  They hired Todd Graves’ law firm at their last meeting.  See the News Leader article here.

Pull Quote: According to minutes of the meeting released Wednesday, the commission voted 2-1 Thursday to hire Kansas City-based firm Graves Garrett. Commissioner Lincoln Hough cast the vote in opposition. The other two commissioners are Bob Cirtin and Harold Bengsch….

In his statement, Hough said he does not support using taxpayer dollars to hire a private firm. He also raised concerns that whistleblowers would not want to report "facts critical to any investigation" to a county-hired law firm, as opposed to the state auditor, who is required to protect whistleblowers' identities.  "Greene County taxpayers should not have to pay $365 dollars an hour to a firm to investigate potential misuse of tax dollars," Hough said…

 

Vet Topper Ousted

Last night, under pressure from the Missouri veterans Commission, Larry Kay resigned as executive director.  See the Post-Dispatch article here.

Against the backdrop of concerns raised about conditions at the St. Louis Veterans Home in Bellefontaine Neighbors, Larry Kay stepped down from the post he’s held at the Missouri Veterans Commission since 2008. “We thanked him for his service in uniform and out of his uniform,” said Tim Noonan, newly elected chairman of the Missouri Veterans Commission…

Greitens, a Republican under pressure to act after allegations of mistreatment of residents at the facility have raged for months, also said the new commissioners should remove the home’s administrator, Rolando Carter.  Carter was placed Friday on a 45-day leave of absence, Noonan said… The commission hired Col. Grace Link of the Missouri Air National Guard as interim executive director of the Veterans Commission.

 

Greitens Punches Down

Governor Eric Greitens went after state senator Jill Schupp, saying she’s to blame for the slow action on the St. Louis Veterans Home.  See his statement here.  This is Trumpian – and contrary to the usual rule in politics not to “punch down.”  It usually debases your position of power to engage with someone lower on the totem pole.

But Trump has changed that practice by attacking all sorts of people – NFL players, wives of fallen soldiers, TV personalities.

The Trumpier Greitens acts the more perplexed I am.  I imagine The Trump Show will grow more tiresome and his approval ratings will continue to slide. Why tie yourself to this wagon?

 

Axiom Buys High Cotton

Axiom Strategies acquired High Cotton Consulting.  From the press release: “As  part  of  the  merger, Alexandra Kendrick and her fundraising staff joined Axiom’s D.C. office…. With the addition of High Cotton, Axiom Strategies becomes one of the only political consulting firms in the country to have a fundraising firm in-house….”

 

Food Stamps Changes

Governing Magazine reports that the Trump administration is green-lighting state attempts to change the food stamp program implementation. See it hereFor years, many conservative states have tried to enact policies that would effectively restrict the number of people using food stamps and how they can use those benefits. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) often blocked those attempts out of concern that they would either be ineffective, too expensive, difficult to enforce or illegal. That’s about to change.

The USDA is preparing to give states “new flexibility” in administering food stamps, which is properly called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In a letter to SNAP directors on Nov. 30, a USDA administrator promised increased federal cooperation with states to reduce fraud, promote employment, and improve customer service for food stamp recipients.

In Missouri, some pre-filed legislation dealing with SNAP includes Sen. Denny HoskinsSB 610 would cut off benefits to individuals who are delinquent on their child support payments, and Sen. David Sater’s SB 561 changes work requirements for SNAP.

 

Bits

Senator Claire McCaskill says that the White House plans a pay freeze in 2019.  See it here.

 

Republican Senate candidate / mystery cartoon character Courtland Sykes made an appearance at Roy Moore’s Election Night Party.  See it here.

 

Gubby Appts

Governor Eric Greitens appointed Joseph Cornelison to Coordinating Board for Higher Education, taking Dalton Wright’s spot.

Greitens also appointed Michael Gilley as Associate Circuit Judge for Camden County, replacing Matthew Hamner.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

James Harris deleted JRMProperties LLC.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Missourians for a Responsible Budget - $10,000 from MHA Political Action Committee for Health (HEALTHPAC).

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Cheryl Dillard.