Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New MO GOP ED Coming?

Folks are starting to consider the possibility of a new executive director of the Missouri Republican Party.  This comes as the current ED, Lloyd Smith, is now among those in the scrum to succeed Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson.


In some respects the stakes for filling this position are low.  There is only one statewide contest in 2014 – the auditor.  And Republicans already have their nominee, incumbent Tom Schweich, who will have no trouble raising enough money.


But in other respects the opportunity cost for the party could be substantial if they install a caretaker instead of an executive director with vision and vigor.  Having just been nearly swept, one assumes there is some appetite within Republican ranks for a stronger state party.  Whether it’s broadening their fundraising base away from a half-dozen mega donors, or creating a sense of unity to avoid divisive primaries in 2016, or delivering the nuts and bolts of an upgraded voter database, a lot could happen below the surface in the next two years without the distraction of a looming election.



Four Pieces to the Hallway Puzzle

First, as a follow-up to yesterday’s listing of association executive director, I should have added a few caveats to the ED pay, like I did with the political consultant pay.  The scope of duties for the different executive directors is vast.  Some are membership driven and require much more attention to cultivating and maintaining a membership base; others are more policy intensive, focusing on directing the legislative strategy.  Furthermore, the 990 forms from an association may not accurately reflect their overall compensation.


Beyond the elected legislators themselves, association executives are one of four major power centers influencing legislation.  Additionally, there are the political consultants (mentioned yesterday), and the legislative affairs folks who work in-house for large corporations.  The fourth group is the contract lobbyists who work for interest groups.


Association leaders and in-house government affairs executives will often hire a stable of contract lobbyists.  There may be one lead firm, but assembling a team of lobbyists has been compared to building a bullpen in baseball.  If you have the resources, you may hire lobbyists for special situations.


For example, a former state representative turned lobbyist might have especially good connections with the current legislators in their old area of the state.  And during the legislative process that lobbyists might be called upon to work those legislators, just like a manager might go to fastball righty for a few batters in the late innings.  You want some with stronger Democratic ties, some with stronger Republican ties; some to corral the rural vote, some to talk to urban legislators; some who know the House leadership, some who know specific Senate committee chairs etc…



Top Contract Lobbyists

Below are some of the biggest contract lobbying firms with the number of clients they list on the Missouri Ethics Commission website, and a sampling of their most prominent clients.


Gamble & Schlemeier – 60 clients listed, including Kansas City, Ameren and Ameristar.


Scheer Winter LLC – 56 clients listed, including City of Branson and McDonald’s.


Burton-Liese Government Relations – 43 clients listed, including Isle of Capri and CVS.


Flotron & McIntosh – 42 clients listed, including St. Louis Police Officers Association and Edison Schools.


Bardgett & Associates – 33 clients listed including, The Cardinals and St. Louis County Economic Council.


The Rhoads Company – 30 clients listed, including Reed Elsevier and Cash America.


SNR Denton – 29 clients listed, including the City of St. Louis an Express Scripts.


Penman & Winton Consulting listed 29 clients, including Missouri Foundation for Health and StudentsFirst.


James Moody & Associates – 29 clients including Public School Retirement System, and Hewlett Packard.


Gallagher Consultants – 29 clients including Jeffrey Smith Companies, and Molina Healthcare.


Brent Hemphill & Associates – 19 clients including Amgen and Argosy Casino.


Patek and Associates – 29 clients listed including the KC Board of Police Commissioners and Smithfield Foods.


Pelopidas – 25 clients listed, including huge donor Rex Sinquefield .


The Gidden Group – 24 clients listed including the Kansas City Chamber and Hallmark.


Schreimann, Rackers, Francka and Blunt – 21 clients listed, including Missouri Automobile Dealers Association, and Pyramid Group.


Polsinelli Shughart – 20 clients listed including JE Dunn and Google.


Stinson Morrison Hecker – 19 clients including St. Charles County and Missouri Charter Public School Association.


Grote & Associates – 19 clients including Bristol-Myers Squibb.


Catalyst Group – 19 clients including FMC Corporation.


Bryan Cave LLP – 16 clients including Missouri Botanical Garden, and Missouri Historical Society.


Fred Dreiling LLC – 15 clients listed including Burns and McDonnell Engineering.


Steven Carroll & Associates – 11 clients including St. Louis Public Schools.



Chris Kelly on Deficit  Spending

Rep. Chris Kelly called up to offer an alternative perspective on my previous writing that a new bonding program is a euphemism for “deficit spending.”


He points out that corporations borrow money as a matter of business to fund long-term investments.  These long-term investment are capital expenditures.  It’s qualitatively different than borrowing for operational expenditures which is closer to “deficit spending.”


Meanwhile Sen. Kurt Schaefer has pre-filed his version of the bonding program.  See it here. Schaefer’s constitutional amendment addresses the higher education component and doesn’t mention highway funding.  It’s a $950 million bonding capacity of which up to $250 million could be used for non-high ed purposes.


It’s early in the process, but so far the two – higher ed bonding and transportation bonding – aren’t linked.


There are still questions in implementation should this amendment pass the legislature and pass the voters of the state.  Chief among these is how the money gets divvied among the competing institutions.  Kelly imagines an ideal scenario where the Coordinating Board of Higher Education creates a list of projects in which each university sees their priorities addressed fairly and without politics…



Hitting Ground Running

Only a few freshmen have the gumption and self-confidence to pre-file bills.  Here they are.


In the House it’s only former state representative Jeff Roorda.  He made some headline with one of them which would force businesses to close during Thanksgiving.  His others are similarly bold – backing popular election of the United States president, and a tax on illegal drugs, which I guess is a roundabout way to increase the fines.


In the Senate, three of the twelve freshmen have pre-filed some bills.  Gary Romine’s bills focus on Farmington issues; Wayne Wallingford’s bills are a hodge-podge: pro-life, a new income tax check-off; “Medical Radiation Safety Awareness Day.”  Scott Sifton’s are the most ambitious – banning lobbyists’ gifts; reauthorizing a tax credit program; and preventing insurers from imposing waiting period for maternity benefits.



Will Fed Politics Have A Psychological Impact on State Politics?

Here’s a hopeful thought from a government affairs executive…


Assuming that Republicans and Democrats in the federal government can successfully negotiate a compromise to the “fiscal cliff,” might that spirit of responsibility infect state lawmakers as well?


It could serve as model behavior that the business of governing means eschewing extremes in order to get things done, that gridlock in some circumstances is not an acceptable outcome?


Whether its tax credit reform, education reform, Medicaid expansion, Second Injury Fund, or pick your subject, the duty to find solutions means playing chicken and holding hostages are irresponsible and not why people entrusted them with their offices.





Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:


Herb R Johnson deleted Missouri AFL-CIO.