Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On Corruption and What It Is To Be Human

Sen. Rob Schaaf reacted to the twin attacks he has faced: Sen. Caleb Rowden suggesting that his renting a room from lobbyist Richard McIntosh was inappropriate, and the attack ads from Governor Eric Greitens’ political non-profit.

His Senate floor speech was brilliant.  He began by acknowledging Rowden’s criticism.  He said it caused him to reassess how his relationship with McIntosh could give the appearance of impropriety.  And that he was changing because of it.  He was no longer a tenant of McIntosh.

He then pivoted to the governor’s attack.  After rebutting their message, he called on the governor to act as he had and “disband your non-profit to launder money,” and “give back the million dollars you took from David Humphreys.”

I agree with Schaaf in his fundamental worldview.  It’s not that some people are corrupt and others clean.  It’s that we all, as humans, are corruptible.  Depending on the circumstances we will do naughty things.  So in an arena like government where you’re setting public policy, you want a system that doesn’t tempt, that doesn’t create situations where people can justify their less noble motivations.  In Schaaf’s words it’s not that the people are corrupt, but rather the system has “corrupt incentives, and corrupt norms.”

I believe the danger is the subtle corruption.  I don’t believe anyone takes a $50,000 check and changes their position on an issue.  But when you take a $50,000 check, does that donor’s issue get a little more floor time just to see if it can be worked out?  Does that donor’s issue get a little more attention in committee to make sure it’s in better position to succeed?  Campaign contribution limits are helpful in limiting the propensity of moral erosion of this kind.

The governor is presumably still taking large contributions (that no one can see) through his dark money operation.  He’s playing with fire if he believes that the fragility of the human intention doesn’t apply to himself – and his team as well.

I think by the time you reach middle age most folks have seen enough of their dark side to know it’s best to try to steer clear of places where there’s a temptation to act inappropriately.  It’s a lesson usually learned the hard way.

As a person, you pray that if this is a lesson some folks on the Greitens team still need to learn, that it's taught to them in private revelation rather than public humiliation.

 

Follow-Up on Greitens’ Non-Profit Attack Ads

First, it wasn’t just digital ads after all.  There were also robo-calls (press #1 to speak with Senator Schaaf and tell him to stop siding with the Democrats and playing politics that are keeping bills term limits, lobbyist gift ban, labor reform, education reform and public safety and first responder funding from passing. When you press #1 you get a message that says, “mailbox full - try again later.”) and radio ads (listen to it here) also.

Second, Governor Eric Greitens says he’s not responsible for the day-to-day operations of the non-profit.

MOScouters Sound Off

I didn't think anything could make Schaaf look like a white knight, but the Greitens attacks and Schaaf turning the conversation to ethics and the governor's entanglement with dark money comes close.

A millennial said that the digital ads against Schaaf "is like government by trolling."

This is Austin Chambers' inability to switch to a governing mindset.

Am I missing something??  Believe me, I'm not defending Schaaf.  But Greitens just took a bad situation in the Senate and quickly made it much worse.

 

Roofing Contractors Seek Humphreys Support

The Roofing and Siding Contractors Association (RSCA) send a letter to roofing magnate and ginormous Republican donor David Humphreys seeking his endorsement of their legislation to create a registration for roofers.

See the letter here.

Pull Quote: “There have been almost 500 complaints recorded by the Attorney General in recent years… Homeowners are taken advantage of by roofing contractors through fraud [and] bad business practices… [G]iven what we understand to be your interest in reducing litigation, the RSCA respectfully believes that this program will reduce the need for litigious action by roofing consumers…”

 

Dixon Down on Blue Alert

The Senate debated HB302 which would create a “Blue Alert” system.  It’s one of the items that Governor Eric Greitens called for in his State of the State speech.  On the floor, Sen. Bob Dixon candidly said over and over that it was window-dressing legislation.  “Law enforcement I talk to say we don’t even need Blue Alert system… I don’t think we need the law…  it’s a feel good thing…”
Senate Preps Budget Debate

The Senate Appropriations Committee reported back the budget bills yesterday clearing the way for the Senate to debate them this week, and send them into conference committee with the House.

 

Bits

Lobbyist Phil LeVota has been appointed to the Metropolitan Community College’s Board of Trustees.  See it here.

 

Treasurer Eric Schmitt launched his MOABLE initiative.  See it here“Missouri is launching a new program for tax-free savings accounts to help families financially support people with disabilities… The savings wouldn't count toward total assets when determining a person's eligibility for Medicaid or other benefits…”

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Jason Zamkus added Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

James Durham and Jennifer Durham added Missouri Amusement Machine Operators Association.

 

$5K+ Contributions

CLEAN Missouri - $24,750 from Our Missouri.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthday to MODem’s Lauren Gepford.