Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ethics Again

KC Star’s Jason Hancock reports this morning on the lack of transparency in money flows in the Capitol.   See it here.  This has been a theme for the last couple of years.  Hancock’s article focuses on the so-called “issue development” committee, a new invention. 

Republican leadership explains it as “formalizing caucuses, allowing groups to function like committees except they study issues to develop policy, not necessarily to pass specific legislation, then they can pass their work to legislative committees. More freedom and flexibility.”

But Democratic critics, and some lobbyists think it’s a way to obfuscate who’s receiving lobbyist-paid meals. 

Jim Lembke, who lost his state senate re-election bid last year to Sen. Scott Sifton, was pounded ceaselessly for the meals and gifts he received from lobbyists.  Legislators with an eye on their next election are instinctually wary of getting tagged; some reimburse lobbyists for their expenditures.  However the practice of using campaign funds to do so draws ethical challenges as well.

There seem to be two general camps in these discussions.  The first, of which I am a part, believes in the corruptibility of humans – any human.  This is from my own experience.  I have done the wrong thing too many times.  Therefore we design our public institutions as much as possible to remove individuals from temptations, and we keep everything as above the board as possible.

The second, which is becoming more and more prevalent, is the “good guy” camp.  I’m a good guy, this stuff could never influence me.  I came here with convictions; I still have them. (Bring on the steak.)

I find this a dangerous conceit. 

But if nothing else the quote below should illuminate to lawmakers the importance of transparency – both in lobbyists gifts, but also in political fundraising which has been infected by faux non-profits and hidden donors.  The continued lack of transparency undermines the public’s confidence in the legislature’s integrity.

Pull Quote: “I didn’t believe it until I got down here, but these things have no impact whatsoever on how people vote,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Mike Cierpiot, a Lee’s Summit Republican.

Most regular people don’t believe it.

Casas to Cummings, Clemens: Be Nice

From: Kate Casas

Date: Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Subject: Concerning elevator conversation

Mr. Cummings and Mr. Clemens,

When I returned to my office today I was informed that yesterday afternoon when you got on the elevator with the U-City volunteer who testified in support of SB344 you took the opportunity to berate him, me, the organization I work for, and our funders.

As you can imagine, this was quite upsetting to him. He is originally from the Virgin Islands and in the United States to attend Washington University….

He was thrilled that as a 21 year old in America he could be given time in a Senate Committee hearing to voice his opinion and be heard. He was even more thrilled when both Senator Pearce and Senator Emery stopped him after the hearing to tell him thanks and congratulate him on the fabulous testimony he gave. However, he felt bullied and intimidated by your surprising and unprovoked attack on him.

I must say, that I am shocked and disappointed that you waited until I was not around to go after a volunteer. I must have passed you a dozen times in the Capitol hallways Tuesday evening and yesterday. However, you never once asked if we could talk, or attempted to question me about my organization's supporters or our policy positions. The fact you had to wait until you were alone in an elevator with a 21 year old volunteer…

I am happy to discuss this and/or CECM's policy positions with you and your colleagues at anytime.

Sincerely,

Kate Casas

State Policy Director

Children's Education Council of Missouri

Nixon to GOP Senate

This morning Governor Jay Nixon will meet with the Republican Senate Caucus to discuss the Medicaid issue.  The mighty Jason Rosenbaum at the St. Louis Beacon has the story.  See it here.

In that article Pro Tem Floor Leader Sen. John Lamping is clear what the Senate will or won’t do. “In 2013, the Senate is not going to take up HB700. It’s not going to pass its own reform bill. And the conversation has pretty much never started, [and is] pretty much over with respect to Medicaid expansion.”

Pro Tem Tom Dempsey concurred in the article noting that senators’ skepticism of ObamaCare and the legislative timing were working against the proposal.

And

In what may be a nod to a potential two-year timeline, Rep. Jay Barnes filed a bill last week to form a “task force” on the issue to study it.

Rand Paul to Headline Brunner Party

“If you don't know yet, the Brunners are hosting a fundraiser on May 1 at their home with Rand Paul.  It’s for the Missouri Republican. Party Thrilled about Rand.  Roy Blunt is the other guest. They are incredibly kind and gracious people because they’re obviously not typical fans of Roy Blunt. Some might call it team playing.”

Waiting

Missouri Supreme Court watchers assume that the court’s much delayed decision relating to the Paul McKee Northside development plan is an indication that the court is deeply split and unable to come to a conclusion.  But who long until the delays kill the project?  As any Senate-watcher will tell you, the power to delay is the power to kill.

Death Spiral?

Yesterday the Senate approved , but during the debate it sounded like Sen. Brad Lager referred to the electrical ISRS in a “death spiral….”

Bits

MODOT to require electronic bids by 2015.  See it here.

Southeast Missourian reports on 8-CD fundraising. See it here. Spoiler: Jason Smith is smoking Steve Hodges.

Below, Gary Weigert – police dude and tea party lobbyist – finally registers Show Me Cannabis Regulate.

When is political intelligence a form of insider trading?  NYTimes explores it here.

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Rodney Gray, Tami Holliday, Susan Henderson Moore, Michael Moorefield, and Richard M Aubuchon added Enterprise Holdings Inc.

Michael A Dallmeyer added R.L. Polk & Company.

Juan Trippe added Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Charles Fiedler deleted RReef Americas LLC.

Deanna L. Hemphill deleted Boone Hospital Board of Trustees.

Gary Wiegert added Show Me Cannabis Regulate.

Nancy L. Giddens, Shannon Cooper, and Jessica Land deleted Arnold and Associates.

Birthdays

Happy birthday to Democratic fundraiser Matt Lieberman (34).