Friday, March 16, 2018

Feds Asking About Dark Money Operations

Vicky Ward, who wrote yesterday’s long essay about Nick Ayers and his dark money network, tweeted yesterday this bombshell“Just in from Missouri. Feds interviewed a lobbyist yesterday about @nick_ayers and @achambersgop and their involvement in lobbying firm Connect South…”

I asked around and spoke to three different people who said they’ve talked to lobbyists who have been interviewed by the FBI recently.

And – Something to Chew On

I don’t want to wander too far into the conspiracy theories, but… one veteran observer thinks this is the big fish.  Not the picture, or the donor list or the scalp of a sitting governor. It’s the dark money network: “The biggest unanswered question to date has been: Why with Greitens’ political future destroyed are anonymous donors pouring in millions of dollars to pay Jeff Roe and an army of high priced lawyers? The HuffPo article answered it. It's not about saving Greitens - it's about stifling the disclosure of information that could get a whole lot of state and national level players indicted…”

 

Q&A #1: Who Did the First Half Go for the Legislature?

Short answer: Way better than anyone would have guessed in January.

 

As the legislature begins its Spring Break, it’s time to take stock of the first half of session.  Generally speaking, folks are kind of amazed at how well things are going.  After the scandal dropped in January, there was a sense that this would be a lost session.  However, compared to the chaos that the governor’s office has brought to the building, the House and Senate are humming along with near indifference.

A lot of credit goes to Speaker Todd Richardson and Pro Tem Ron Richard who have kept their chambers as focused on the business before them each day.  They haven’t stuck their head in the sand.  Both have acknowledged the governor’s shortcomings, and bemoaned its ill effect.   But both have also refused to get sucked into the vortex of daily revelations and rumors about the various investigations.

Speaker Richardson touted the 158 bills that the House has passed so far this session.  A record, it’s said.  However one lobbyist cautions, “Nobody has that many good ideas,” and with both chairs of the House Rules committees also doing time on the Special Investigative Committee, wonders if everything is getting a proper vetting.

The Senate meanwhile has had its share of distractions and digressions. But that’s the character of the chamber.  They passed the utility regulatory framework, and a number of other “tough” issues like lowering the caps on the Historic Tax Credit Program, and Onder’s virtual school bill, and Munzlinger’s industrial hemp bill.  Along with significant debate time on various tort reform bills and the tax reform package.

It’s going better than anyone expected.

Of course, the second half is what makes or breaks most sessions.  We’ll see if the Senate can move more of their priorities across the finish line, and if the two chambers can continue to play nice even through the higher pressure, end-of-session crunch.

 

Faux Deregulation

Team Greitens is continuing its quest to remove a third of the “restrictive language” in state regulations.  But in some recent cases, it looks more like re-wording instead of deregulation.  This one gets rid of “shall not be” replacing it with “is not.”  And this one strikes out “as required by section 610.023” for the much gentler “pursuant to section 610.023”.

The stated purpose of both these changes is “to reduce unnecessary regulatory restrictions.”

 

Labor Play in Senate 22

With Sen. Paul Wieland being challenged by a serious Democratic opponent, Robert Butler, one question is whether labor will continue to back Wieland or not.  One wise observer explained that the truth is that labor is not monolithic.  And it’s likely we’ll see some splitting in this race with labor organizations on both sides.

 

Labor Play in St. Charles

As Rep. Kurt Bahr eyes his former colleague Doug Funderburk as his new rival for the position of St. Charles Elections Director, he’s imagining that one distinction between their records is on labor issues.  They were both solidly Republican on guns and life, but Funderburk was more sympathetic to labor than Bahr during his time in the legislature.  Look for Bahr to make that contrast in the Republican primary.

 

What the GOP Can Learn From Losing

Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal gives his take on the Republicans’ lost in Pennsylvania.  (See it here).  “Republican candidates must drive home their own distinctive messages. Running as Trump 2.0 like Mr. Saccone did won’t work unless your opponent is Hillary 2.0. Voters must be shown—in tangible terms—why electing a Republican is better for their family and country. Otherwise, GOP-leaning voters will stay home or defect. Count on more Democrats in red districts to soft-pedal progressive views and run as Republican-lite by sounding reasonable on guns, defense, deficits and values... [C]andidates must build their own ground game by recruiting, training and motivating armies of volunteers to narrow the enthusiasm gap Democrats enjoy because of their intense hatred for President Trump.  Speaking of the president: He riles up the opposition more than he energizes his side… Team Trump should deploy the president to raise money and win primaries for electable candidates. But he should avoid rallies in the campaign’s closing months. Mr. Trump drowns out a candidate’s message and makes the news all about whatever wild line he slings into the ether…”

 

New Candidate Filings

Paul Taylor filed to run in House 1 as a Democrat.

Joan Shores filed to run in House 57 as a Democrat.

Richard Davidson filed to run for House 160 as a Republican.  That makes this a four-way primary to succeed termed Rep. Bill Reiboldt.

 

New Committees

Matt Doell formed a candidate committee (Committee To Elect Matt Doell) to run for House 110 as a Republican.

Ayanna Shivers formed a candidate committee (Ayanna Shivers For S-10) to run for Senate 10 as a Democrat.

Sandra Jiles formed a candidate committee (Committee To Elect Sandra E Jiles) to run for Jackson County Legislature as a Democrat.

Steve McIntosh formed a candidate committee (Committee For Mcintosh) to run for Jasper County Collector of Revenue as a Republican.

Mary Newman-Teel formed a candidate committee (Committee To Elect Mary Lou Newman-Teel) to run for Jasper County Clerk as a Republican.

Greene County Democratic Progressive  Caucus Inc was formed.  It’s a PAC.  Its treasurer is Richard Napierlski.

 

Help Wanted

Missouri Republican Party seeks Administrative Assistant.  “We are looking for someone in the mid-Missouri area who wants to get started in politics or gain existing political experience.  The Administrative Assistant's duties include tracking all incoming invoices and ensuring that bills are being paid on time. In addition, the Administrative Assistant acts as the office manager, ensuring that the day-to-day office activities of the office run smoothly. Other tasks include sorting the mail (generally minimal), depositing checks, and aiding staff in various political and/or communications tasks.  Attention to detail and a pro-active mindset are critical for this position. No prior political experience is needed… Applicants should send their resume to david@mogop.org.”

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Bradley Ketcher deleted Ballot Measure Group.

 

$5K+ Contributions

We Are Missouri - $500,000 from Western Missouri and Kansas Laborers' District Council.

Committee for the Future - $20,000 from Bass Pro LLC.

Committee to Elect Matt Doell - $9,603 from Matthew Doell.

CLEAN Missouri - $10,000 from NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Jon Dolan, Tom Villa, and Melissa Randol.

Saturday: Tom Self, Todd Smith, Patrick Lynn, Joe Maxwell, Earl Simms, and Mark Osmack.

Sunday: Francis Slay and Tod Martin.