Friday, June 23, 2017

Hawley’s Merch Suit

When Attorney General Josh Hawley announced his opioid lawsuit yesterday, super-attorney Chuck Hatfield tweeted a four-word commentary: “merchandising practices act suit.”

Last session the Senate debated a change in the statute narrowing what’s allowed in these suits.  The Senate bill was sponsored by Pro Tem Ron Richard and became a lightning rod for his relationship with donor David Humphreys (see Hancock’s article on that controversy here, and see below for the most recent turn of events).

That bill, SB5, would have only impacted private suits, not those brought by attorney general. Still Hawley’s action might temper some zeal to taken away private citizens’ ability to file similar suits.


Some observers must surely be finding it ironic that Hawley filed the lawsuit in the City of St. Louis.  After all this session was filled with talk from Republicans complaining about “venue shopping” and the “judicial hellhole” that the city has become.  Why didn't Hawley bring that action in Jefferson City or in some solid red county rather choosing to go to the most Democratic jurisdiction in the state. Does he think the city jurors will be better at dispensing appropriate justice?


Fox Was Against Hawley Before He Was For Hawley

One MOScout reader finds Sam Fox’s embrace of Josh Hawley for Senate quite curious.

“All the stories fail to mention that Ambassador Fox donated $220,000 to Democrats and Groups in 2016… $35,000 to STL Mayor Francis Slay; $5,000 to Rizzo for Missouri; $10,000 to Reinvest STL (pro-earnings tax Slay group); $150,000 to Chris Koster, all in the General Election ($100K 8/30; $50K 11/2); and the cherry on top... A whopping $20,000 to TERESA HENSLEY, Josh Hawley's liberal Democrat opponent - 11/2, 5 days before the General Election when everyone knew Josh Hawley was going to win. It is obvious that Ambassador Fox thought little of Josh and his resume then. [Also] he gave Kurt Schaefer, Josh Hawley's PRIMARY opponent, $10,000 on 9/18/15 - after Josh Hawley was in the AG's race…”

So why is Fox backing Hawley now?...


Ethics Complaint on Humphreys Advisor

Jason Hancock reports that an ethics complaint has been filed against David Humphreys’ advisor Paul Mouton for not registering as a lobbyist.  See it here.  Mouton is often seen in the building during session – on both the House and the Senate sides.  Hancock has previously reported that Senate Pro Tem Ron Richard’s office often reserves a Senate parking space for Mouton to accommodate his frequent trips to the capitol.

Most people I talk to assume that Mouton’s conversations with lawmakers must have included some effort to bolster the labor/legal legislation that Humphreys has publicly championed.  But maybe he’s only making small talk and is just someone there watching the process.  Maybe.  But why play footsie with these things?  Why not just register and make sure if you even accidentally step over the line, you’re in the clear?

Or actually, why doesn’t Humphreys engaged Jeff Roe’s Axiom lobbyists to professionalize his presence in Jefferson City?


Senate Starts Labor Reform Committee

Pro Tem Ron Richard established the Senate Interim Committee on Labor Reform “to conduct in-depth studies and make appropriate recommendation s concerning the hourly rate of wages required to be paid to workers employed by or on behalf of any public body engaged in public work and the regulation of public-sector labor organizations and public bodies that deal with such organizations.”

The Committee’s membership is Sen. Dave Schatz, Chair; Sen. Dan Brown, Vice-Chair; Sens. Bob Onder, Ryan Silvey, Brian Munzlinger, Jake Hummel, and Gina Walsh.


The Coming Return of IEs

Meet Conservative Leadership for NEMO.  It’s a new political action committee, formed earlier this week.  I bet we’re going to continue to see more of these types of PACs.

The treasurer of this PAC is James C Thomas III.  He’s an attorney – who works often with GOP strongman consultant Jeff Roe – specializing in campaign finance.

This PAC appears to be set-up to help Roe’ Axiom Strategies help their preferred candidate (probably Cindy O’Laughlin) in the upcoming Senate 18 primary.

With the new campaign finance limits, it’s expected that campaign budgets will not shrink, but rather a substantial chuck of dough will be spent as independent expenditures.

While candidates now have limits on the size of individual checks they can receive, giving to PACs is not subject to the limits.

This situation favors firms like Axiom that have relationships with the big donors in the state, and have the sophisticated operations to run both the campaign and the IE, independent of each other.


The big winners are the TV and radio stations which can charge market rates to the PACs instead of the lower candidate rates….



St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin reports that the full Senate won’t reconvene to take up the abortion legislation until after the July 4 break.


Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer on Facebook writes: There has been a lot of confusion over where Missouri stands when it comes to the federal REAL ID standards, so I wanted to provide you with a quick update.  On June 12th Missouri’s Governor, Eric Greitens signed a bill into law that would require the Department of Revenue to issue REAL ID compliant drivers licenses. This new law will give Missourian’s the choice of a REAL ID compliant license or a non-compliant license.  It may take up to two years for the Department of Revenue to complete the process to become REAL ID compliant. This is why my Missouri congressional colleagues and I have requested a waiver from DHS, like the waivers granted in 27 other states… If our request is granted, Missourian’s will continue to be allowed on military bases and flights without additional forms of identification. The Missouri Department of Revenue will notify the public when they can receive REAL ID compliant identification.


Post-Dispatch reports on the latest legal wrangling over the right to work repeal referendum.  See it here.


eMailbag on Chamber Mess

The only way you can describe the STL Chamber mess as a "well orchestrated PR coup" is if you're only reviewing a small part of this mess.   Or if you're trying to protect someone with that comment.  This is mismanagement and lack of oversight at multiple levels. These are management, at will, employees.  Tough to prove wrongful work practices but don’t be surprised if lawsuit isn't forth coming…


Help Wanted

The Missouri Department of Agriculture seeks Executive Director for the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority.  “The employee in this position is responsible for directing or assisting in the overall planning, design, direction, implementation, and coordination of financial assistance programs affecting agricultural producers and agri-business industries in the state….  The employee in this position will serve as a spokesperson for MASBDA with the public, agriculture industry and government. Work involves attending agriculture functions throughout the year to promote the MASBDA programs, communicating with legislative liaisons and elected officials and testifying on legislative issues at the Capitol.… STARTING ANNUAL SALARY: $75,000…” See it here.


$5K+ Contributions

STL Citizens for Safety - $20,000 from Anheuser Busch Companies.



Happy birthday to Rep. Kevin Engler, former Rep. Nick King, Steve Harmon, and Hawley’s Rachel Hassani.

Saturday: Rep. Kevin Austin, former Reps. Shelly Kenney, Dani Moore, and Jim Krieder, Eileen Evans, and Alex Curchin.

Sunday: Alderpeople Christine Ingrassia, and Joe Vaccaro, and the mighty Jason Rosenbaum.