Thursday, January 28

Wolfe Snarls

CDT’s Rudi Keller reported on a letter sent by former University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe defending his tenure and throwing punches at his antagonists.  It’s a pretty good read; see it here.

One accusation he makes is that Sen. Kurt Schaefer “pressured” him to prevent Josh Hawley from entering the AG primary. In Keller’s article, Schaefer calls the letter “bizarre.


Maybe when your budget is subject to appropriations, every word from an Appropriations Chair contains an implicit threat?  I don’t know.  Enter Rep. Gina Mitten’s new bill…

The press release: State Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, today filed legislation that would prohibit lawmakers from chairing House or Senate committees while running for statewide office.

The combination of the vast influence committee chairmen have over legislation and the tremendous amount of money it takes to run for statewide office creates a situation that is ripe for abuse, especially when Missouri allows unlimited campaign contributions… Under House Bill 2398, a lawmaker would be required to resign his or her committee chairmanship within two weeks of creating a statewide candidate committee. Anyone who refused to do so would be statutorily barred from running for statewide office during the two subsequent election cycles…


House Passes Lobbyist Gift Ban

The House passed Rep. Justin Alferman’s HB 2166 which bans lawmakers taking gifts from lobbyists. See the Post-Dispatch article here.  Observers noted that some legislators “had to put down their free lunch to go vote on the issue.”

KCStar’s Jason Hancock tweeted a picture which captured every irony of the situation.  See it here.  The photo contains: the free food outside the House just before the vote on lobbyists gifts, the Missouri Ethics Commission table set up, and all of it under the marble engraved words: Not To Be Served But To Serve.


One lobbyist asked me how they do this and not do campaign contributions limits.  “A burger is a gift, but a $50,000 check to your campaign isn’t?”


As noted in Hancock’s previous article on the issue, the Senate used to have its own rule regulating lobbyists’ gifts.  See it here.  In other words, if this bill doesn’t make it across the finish line there’s nothing to prevent the legislature from passing rules to accomplish this goal.


Harris Gets an Opponent

When Nixon aide Jeff Harris sent out a press release announcing his intention to be appointed judge and then run for re-election, it looked like a done deal.  It’s undone now.

Now comes Deborah Daniels to contest Harris.  CDT’s Jodie Jackson Jr. reports on it here.

Pull Quote:  “I thought it would be a good time to jump in to give voters an opportunity to weigh in on that,” Daniels said Wednesday morning… Judicial candidates are prohibited from campaigning against each other and must run on their own merits. Daniels said she would not comment on Harris “or others who might be judges in the future.”

Daniels has been elected to three four-year terms as associate circuit judge. She was first elected in 2006 in a three-way primary race and a contested general election. Her current term expires in 2018… In reference to the court’s mandatory retirement age of 70 — which Daniels would reach in June 2020 — Harris released a statement late Wednesday morning in response to Daniels’ announcement that she will challenge him in the year’s Democratic primary.  “I commit to the citizens of Boone and Callaway Counties to work hard each and every day and to serve an entire six-year term,” said Harris, 51, a former state legislator and policy director for Nixon’s office since 2009. “This judgeship plays far too important of a role in our justice system to leave it vacant halfway through the term. I support the democratic process and look forward to a spirited and respectful campaign.”



Here comes the backlash… “I have now been told of several Democrats who got a text from Jeff Harris saying he expected their support. Not even a phone call - a text. Nothing like the personal touch of the entitled...”


Fear of a Cigarette Tax Increase

Rep. Joe Don McGaugh hops on the whisper campaign against the initiative petition for a cigarette tax by saying it will fund abortions, not early childhood.  His Facebook post: PRO-LIFE ALERT   A Kansas City-based organization deceptively named “Raise Your Hand for Kids,” is pushing their agenda to increase cigarette taxes and funnel money towards liberal causes, including the possibility of adding language for public funds to be used for abortions in Missouri’s Constitution. This is a dangerous and unprecedented move to include public funding that could be used for abortions in the Missouri Constitution; it is currently being challenged in court. Raise Your Hand for Kids is currently collecting signatures to get on Missouri's ballot as a constitutional amendment. We must oppose RYH4K’s efforts before it is too late.


RYH4K responds: Rep. McGaugh: Raise Your Hand for Kids would like to respond to the information you have posted about our effort to fund early childhood education and healthcare through a reasonable tobacco tax.  Attached is a detailed memo from our attorney, Mr. Eddie Greim, who is a well-known Missouri election law expert and a pro-life Catholic.  His bona fides include his appointment by the Catholic bishops of Missouri as a member of the Missouri Catholic Conference (2012-2014) and as the past chairman of its Public Policy Committee.  Please be assured that our ballot language in NO way is allowed to fund abortions or fund ANY organizations that provide abortions.  In fact, it would be impossible and unlawful to do so under our initiative petition.  We were very diligent and careful in crafting this language for these reasons.  Please take a moment to read the memo and please feel free to share it.  We can agree or not agree on the merits of a reasonable and modest cigarette tax increase (we are the LOWEST in the nation and 950% below the national average), but let’s all agree that misinformation has no place in helping voters make rationale and informed decisions about our state’s public policies.   We would welcome the opportunity to discuss further if you would find that helpful.

What it Means

Polling must be looking bad for Little Tobacco…


Wessels for House

Fred Wessels started a campaign committee to run for House 81 as a Democrat. The current incumbent, Minority Leader Jake Hummel, is termed.

Wessels served as a St. Louis City alderman for nearly three decades before his appointment a few years ago to become director of St. Louis' Community Development Administration.


Vehicle for Senate 19 Showdown?

Central Missouri Senate Republican PAC was filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission yesterday.   We’ll see as it becomes active, but the best guess would be that this will be a vehicle to fund Rep. Caleb Rowden’s Senate 19 bid against Rep. Stephen Webber.

Because the Senate map has very few swing districts this cycle, it’s expected that Republicans will focus on trying to retain this seat.


Allen: PSC Response Less Than Welcoming

In a letter Rep. Sue Allen says the Public Service Commission’s scheduling of public meetings for American Water’s rate increase makes it difficult for her constituents to attend…

I read the Public Service Commission notice on the Missouri American Water Public Hearing Schedule. These hearings are taking place at Florissant Valley Community College on February 8 at 5:30 p.m. and the University of Missouri, St. Louis on February 9 at 5:30 p.m. These locations and the timing of the hearings totally discount attendance or participation of citizens in central, south, and west counties. I have been in communication with the Public Service Commission (PSC), attempting to negotiate a more central location so your voice can be heard in these matters. The responses I have received, however, have been less than welcoming…


Cunningham: It Aint Me

Former senator Jane Cunningham writes to pop the floated idea that she might run DESE in a Eric Greitens administration…

“The qualifications for the person ‘running DESE’ include having an ‘earned doctorate’ and ‘effective management of a large public organization’ neither of which I have.  The Commissioner is also selected by the State Board of Education, most or all of which were nominated by Nixon for eight year terms.  The chances of me running DESE.....ZERO!”


More Bradshaw TV $$$

More Brad Bradshaw for lieutenant governor television ad buys showing up.  See a Springfield buy here.


Steelman in the Building

Former Treasurer Sarah Steelman was walking the halls yesterday.  She made an appearance in the Senate Economic Development Committee to testify in favor of Sen. Eric Schmitt’s SB 573 “Defund Iran” bill.


eMailbag: on Sweere for House

“Not reassuring to supporters to see a candidate file an ethics committee for the wrong House district. Isn’t this guy supposed to be a lawyer?”


Today’s Events

From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Sen. Will Kraus Reception – Boulevard Brewing Company – KC – 5:30PM.


Lobbyists Registrations

David McCracken and Bill Stouffer added Catapult Learning LLC.

Dave Berry added Macquarie Infrastructure And Real Assets; and deleted Atkins North America Inc.

James Harris added New Florence Wood Products.

Datra Herzog and David Scobey deleted Tenet Healthsystem.


$5K+ Contributions

Parson for Missouri - $6,750 from William H Danforth.

Anne Zerr for Missouri - $5,100 from Schlichter Bogard and Denton LLP.



Happy birthdays to former Rep. Van Kelly, and STL’s SABer Melanie Adams.