Thursday, May 21, 2015

House Floor Leader Race

Yesterday Rep. Caleb Rowden sent out an email to his caucus member declaring his candidacy for floor leader.   Meanwhile the current assistant floor leader, Rep. Mike Cierpiot, has been making calls since the beginning of the week, and Team Cierpiot says that they have the commitments to win the race.  Obviously, other camps dispute that notion.

One of Cierpiot’s advantage is his “gray hair.”  There are some in the caucus who want maturity in the aftermath of the Diehl debacle.

But one knock on Cierpiot is that he has one eye on a future Senate 8 race, and that he’d use the floor leader position to fundraise for that endeavor (see Rowden’s pledge in his email below).

The third entrant is Rep. Robert Cornejo, who has also been making calls.  He and Rowden are in the same class, which one observer thinks plays to Cierpiot’s favor.


Rowden’s Appeal

I hope you have been able to take a little bit of time and recoup from the 2015 session. It was certainly one that will not soon be forgotten. I was proud of our policy accomplishments, and even more proud of our resolve and unity as we endured the events of the last week of session...

Our eyes now turn to 2016. There are claims every election cycle that the next election will be the most important in our country’s history. I will continue the cliche and say that I absolutely believe that to be true of 2016. We will work to regain the White House from a lawless President who has left a trail of destruction during his tenure as our nation’s Chief Executive. We will work to take back our Governor’s Mansion from a disengaged leader who was reelected as one the of the most popular in the country, but will leave office as one of the most disgraced…

It is with great humility that I am announcing my candidacy for Majority Floor Leader….

In politics, our typical view is confined to the next election and how our decisions impact our future prospects. I believe we have a generational opportunity to LEAD and not wait for a Governor to come to the 3rd floor—or any other outside variables for that matter…

Due to the incredible dedication of our caucus and great work of HRCC, we have been extremely successful politically over the past decade. With that being said, our work is cut out for us in the next two cycles. The last five months have been difficult for the Republican brand.  Polling has recently indicated Missourians have lost faith in all branches of government.  2016 is a presidential cycle and the challenges it creates for each of us cannot be understated. However, with the strength of our fellow caucus members and the quality candidates HRCC is recruiting, we have already won the most important battle.  The next key piece is our fundraising responsibilities.  HRCC’s budget has grown from $3.2m to $4.1m in the last four cycles. Record fundraising has allowed us to win a record number of seats. As has been the case with the previous Floor Leaders, I pledge to give every dollar I raise back to the caucus and prioritize our majority.

It will be imperative to have someone as Floor Leader whose view includes 2016 and beyond. We must also look forward to 2018 which will be another important and difficult election. The sophomore class will exit on the eve of another round of redistricting, and everything we do from this point forward needs to be designed to have us in a position of maximum strength when that time comes. If we make the tough decisions today while keeping an eye toward the future, we will lay the foundation for a third decade of Republican control in the Missouri legislature.

The next Floor Leader needs to be able to use innovation to help our caucus members feel like they have a voice in our structure and process. The next Floor Leader needs to be laser focused on his or her duties in the House and be capable of fundraising at a very high level in order to help protect and grow our majority. The next Floor Leader must be able to articulate Conservative principles and ideals in a way that is attractive to everyday Missourians. And above all else, the next Floor Leader needs to be someone you can trust. I believe I have the ability to serve you well in each of these areas.

Over the next two months, I plan to travel to your district and meet with you personally. This is not about one individual or one leadership race. This is about you. This is about us….



And then Assistant Floor…

If Cierpiot does ascend to the floor leader position, then there could be a scrum for the assistant floor leader spot.  It’s said that Rep. Kathy Swan has been making calls for that job.  But one other intriguing name that’s floating is Rep. Justin Alferman.  He’s seen the job up close from his time staffing Ceirpoit, has good connections with the freshmen class and has proven himself over lasts session as the leading power on the floor from that class.


More Intern Questions Raised

Eli Yokley, writing in the Joplin Globe (See it here), and Rudi Keller in Columbia Daily Tribune (See it here) report on an ongoing Senate investigation about the University of Central Missouri’s decision this session to pull its interns from the office of Sen. Paul LeVota.

Pull Quotes from Globe story:  In April, the university in Warrensburg reached out to and was joined by the Missouri Senate to assist in its Title IX investigation to probe any potential wrongdoing by the young woman’s superiors in Jefferson City that might have prompted her to want to leave her post… Ron Berry serves as LeVota's chief of staff. Berry oversees the staff as well as the interns. Often, LeVota is also joined in his office by his brother, Phil, a Kansas City Democratic heavyweight and former prosecutor who also lobbies the Legislature. In an email response to the Globe, Berry said he had not been informed of any investigations.


LeVota’s Statement

Recently, the Missouri Capitol was buzzing about the Speaker of the House and his relationship with an intern. Recently, there have been unconfirmed rumors about the interns in the Missouri Senate program and other interns in the Missouri House. I understand the need for universities to look into rumors, even unsubstantiated rumors. I would be open to any university taking a further look at the experience of any of my legislative interns. I had the honor of working with five students from several universities across the state this spring.

This session, after a month and a half, my chief of staff was notified by e-mail that the male and female interns from UCM for my office were needed back at school to work on other projects. I was never informed by the university, or by either intern, of any issues they experienced other than that. I had no reason to doubt what the university said in that e-mail and still have no reason to doubt that. And as of today, I have still never been informed by any intern or staff member of any incidents at all. The remaining three interns assigned to my office had a great experience and finished the session. None have voiced any issues in their internship, nor any report that either of the UCM interns had any problems.

This is my 11th year in the Missouri Capitol and I have had an amazing experience with the intern program with students from across the state over that decade with no problems at all. Now with the recent climate, rumors and speculation abound and I am upset that any of these young people that come to experience the legislative process would be subject to sensationalism.


Title IX

What is Title IX? Title IX broadly protects students from harassment and discrimination based on gender. “Title IX protects students from sexual harassment in a school's education programs and activities. This means that Title IX protects students in connection with all the academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs of the school, whether those programs take place in a school's facilities, on a school bus, at a class or training program sponsored by the school at another location, or elsewhere.”


Here is a document that most directs how education institutions should respond to harassment is a “guidance” letter from the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR).  This is the Title IX check list if you will and lays out in clear language the expectations.

One reader offers these three “big ideas” from the letter:

1) Title IX and guidance from the Dept. of Education does not leave room for interpretation or equivocation.

2) Title IX's default position is that a school must take action – inaction even out of concern for the victim is a secondary consideration. The school is obligated to put the safety of all students first.

3) There is no room to hide schools must have a designated Title IX coordinator who is in the loop on all possible Title IX violations.


It looks like University of Central Missouri is taking this situation seriously.  And it’s unclear if the Missouri Southern State University (MSSU), whose intern went through the Diehl ordeal, did a similar investigation.  It seems from the guidance letter that they probably should have.  “[A] school that knows, or reasonably should know, about possible harassment must promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.”


One reader is skeptical of MSSU’s response due to media reports before Jason Hancock broke the sexts in the Kansas City Star.  Before that, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoted Sen. Ron Richard saying, “The (MSSU) president called me and told me they (the interns) weren't getting along."”

He writes, “So while many are angry at Diehl my anger lies with MSSU administration.  If I were the parent of a 19-year old at a state school, I’d be at the President's residence demanding answers. Did MSSU lie by omission to Richard about what was happening? I don't agree about much with Richard but he’s a straight shooter and not likely to lie on the record to the Post about something like this…”


Missouri Republicans and RTW

Washington Post looks at Missouri Republicans making the “conservative case against picking on unions.”  See it here.


Lobbyists Registrations

Celeste Banks-Rueter added Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri.

Jorgen Schlemeier, Jeff Brooks added Managed Care of North America

Sarah Topp, Jorgen Schlemeier, Bill Gamble, Jeff Brooks deleted Valued Pharmacy Services, and Mental Health Management.

James Atkins deleted Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Ray Wagner deleted Associated Industries of Missouri, Enterprise Holdings Inc, and Raymond Wagner.

John Nations deleted Bi-state Development Agency D/B/A Metro.


$5K+ Contributions

HealthPAC - $6,100 from MidAmerica Division Office.

Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO Project 2000 - $10,000 from Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO.

Lewis & Clark Ozarks Mountain Forum - $15,000 from William Darr.

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Political Account - $5,026 from Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.



Happy birthday to lobbyists Jessica Pabst (30), and MO McCullough.