Thursday, March 8, 2018

Driving the Day

Wall Street Journal reports that “Health insurer Cigna Corp. is nearing a deal to buy Express Scripts Holding Co., according to people familiar with the matter.  A deal could be announced as soon as Thursday, the people said. As of Wednesday, Express Scripts had a market value of $41 billion, meaning that with a typical premium, the transaction could be worth $50 billion or more… St. Louis-based Express Scripts is a pharmacy-benefit manager. Such companies serve as middlemen that help negotiate discounts with drug makers. The combination would be the latest in a flurry of proposed tie-ups in the rapidly changing health-care-services business…”

Express Scripts has been a major player across politics, civics and economics in the state.


Barnes’ Black Hole

Rep. Jay Barnes seemed so far determined to run the House Special Investigative Committee like a black hole.  Information comes in, but nothing comes out.

This is already starting grumbling among the press.  The Radio Television Digital News Association came out with a statement urging Barnes to “conduct your committee’s investigation into allegations against Governor Eric R. Greitens with full openness and transparency…”  See it here.

Barnes may need to do a press briefing once a week during this process during which he can say “I can’t talk about that” as much as he needs to.  But there should be some information that can be made available.


Rosenblem Joins Greitens Defense

Governor Eric Greitens’ legal team added Scott Rosenblum.  He’s a high-profile St. Louis defense attorney.  It sends the message that no cost is being spared.

But the message was a little obscured when Jason Hancock reported that he “represented a male stripper prosecuted for invasion of privacy for secretly videotaping women having sex with him and later showing those tapes to friends.  Nearly 20 years later, Rosenblum — now a sought after criminal defense attorney — has joined Gov. Eric Greitens’ legal team as he tries to fend off the same charge.

And Rosenblum’s former client from two decades ago is asking Greitens for a pardon, arguing that the governor’s motion to have the charge against him dismissed uses the same legal rationale as the request for the pardon.”


Social  Media Sunshine

Terry Ganey writes about how politicians’ social media accounts should be handled under Sunshine laws.  See it here.


The Brawl for 82

Among the surprises on the opening day of filing was former Rep. Fred Kratky filing in House 82.  He’s set to primary Rep. Donna Baringer.  Kratky previously served three terms in the House, and then his wife Michele Kratky served.  Michele was termed and ran for Alderman in the ward where Baringer served; Baringer ran for Kratky’s House seat.  However Kratky lost the aldermanic race, and some say that the Kratkys blame Baringer for that loss.

Now comes Kratky trying to grab one more term, but he’s the underdog for sure.


Schaaf Hearts Roberts?

One MOScout tipster thinks that Harry Roberts is Sen. Rob Schaaf’s pick in Senate 34.  “Roberts has been seen with Schaaf and [his chief of staff] Jim Lembke in the capitol for several months. Schaaf introduced Roberts at Platte County Conservatives meeting last month and indicated his support. It is common for state legislators to want to try to pick their replacement. The CL PAC with ties to Lembke gave Roberts money...”


Walker in Washington

Rep. Cora Faith Walker still hasn’t made it down to the secretary of state’s office yet to officially filed for re-election.  But she will be in Washington DC next week for a fundraiser… March 14 at the Hamilton Hotel at 7:30AM


Branson Seeks Workers from Puerto Rico

Pretty interesting article in the Washington Post about a labor shortage in Branson and their possible solution.  See it here.

Pull Quote: “This is ‘Hispanics 101,’ a class meant to teach employers in the Ozarks resort town of 11,400 how to lure workers from Puerto Rico and persuade them to stay. The economy depends on it. As tourism season kicks off this month, the remote getaway known for dinner theaters, country music concerts and a museum of dinosaur replicas has 2,050 vacancies — and a lack of locals applying. So, like other areas with tight labor markets, Branson finds itself getting creative to fill jobs — in this case by recruiting people from a part of the United States with much higher unemployment. But the plan to bring 1,000 workers from the island to overwhelmingly white, conservative Branson over the next three years has sparked unease…”


Merideth Contra Cornejo

On Facebook Rep. Peter Merideth unleashed a condemnation of General Laws Chair Robert Cornejo’s judgment about live-streaming committee hearings. (See it here)

Last night I was reprimanded publicly in General Laws. The chairman read a written statement, angry about my live streaming last week’s gun hearings. He pointed to a House Rule that the chair is responsible for maintaining “decorum” in committee to claim that recording is not allowed without his permission and cited a Missouri case over recording Senate hearings. He declared that from now on committee members would not be allowed to stream or record our “public” hearings or would be removed from the committee and censured.

I strongly believe the chairman to be incorrect both as a policy matter and a legal matter. The public has a right to watch these public hearings, and we as elected officials have a responsibility to assist them if the House doesn’t do it for us….

I’ve confirmed with our staff as well as the Chief Clerk of the House that their reading of the law is in line with mine - the chairman has no authority to prohibit recording or streaming.

But overall, here’s what’s happening. You all are being heard, and they aren’t happy about it. Literally thousands of you watched the stream of what we did on the gun bills last week. You were angry, and you let these Republicans know it. They aren’t used to hearing from you, and they aren’t used to being seen voting in such radical ways and making such extreme arguments. The conversation on guns is changing, and now they want to hide from it. They were embarrassed, and now they want to blame me and attack transparency…

I also can’t help but note a remarkable contrast. The chairman is essentially arguing that we elected officials have a sort of expectation of privacy in these open, public hearings, and we can’t record or stream what we are doing (even openly) for the sake of “decorum”. At the same time their Republican Governor is in court literally arguing that people having sex have no expectation of privacy in the bedroom, and their partners have the right to secretly videotape or photographs them without their consent. Let that sink in for a minute. Their message is: Turn off the cameras when your elected reps are ignoring you, but we can secretly turn them on in your most intimate of moments.


New Candidate Filings

David Osborn filed to run for House 160 as a Republican.


Dennis Lee Chilton withdrew from running for House 135.  His withdrawal leaves Rob Bailey as the only Democrat filed now.  The incumbent is Republican Steve Helms.


New Committees

Tim Harris formed a candidate committee (Committee To Elect Tim Harris) to run for House 15 as a Republican.  The current incumbent is Democrat Jon Carpenter.

Gary Bonacker formed a candidate committee (Committee To Elect Gary Bonacker) to run for House 111 as a Republican.  The current incumbent is Shane Roden.

Missourians For Research and Innovation was formed. It’s a PAC.  Its treasurer is Donn Rubin.


Lobbyists Registrations

Bradley Westmoreland added Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

Ron Berry added St. Louis Area Diaper Bank.


$5K+ Contributions

CLEAN Missouri - $50,000 from Western Missouri and Kansas Laborers’ District Council.

UAW Region 5 Midwest State Political Action Committee (PAC) (MO) - $6,000 from UAW Region 5 Exchange Account.

We Are Missouri - $13,300 from Misosuri AFL-CIO General Fund.



Happy birthday to David Steelman.