Friday, January 26, 2018

Driving the Day: Sanders Pleading Guilty

KMBZ reports (see it here): “[G]uilty pleas from two former high ranking Jackson County officials will be entered in federal court Friday. Former county executive Mike Sanders and his chief of staff Calvin Williford were implicated in a case involving misappropriation of campaign funds. The FBI had been investigating Sanders for several years. He allegedly skimmed money from campaign accounts he controlled after paying a longtime friend for consulting work that was not done. In addition to serving as county executive Sanders was Jackson County prosecutor and head of the Missouri Democratic Party. Sources say the total amount of campaign money involved will be into six figures….”


Q&A#1 : Where Are We On Greitens Scandal?

Short answer: All over the place.  Zero consensus now.


Immediately after the scandal broke there was a pretty clear herd mentality…  Publicly folks were calling for an investigation, and privately saying that the governor was toast.  Now opinion has splintered.

Those supporting the governor are exhaling.  They believe the point of maximum danger has passed.  That is, there’s been no more women to come forward, there’s been no more damaging reports, there’s been no angry mob outside the governor’s office.  They may be painful episodes ahead, but he will finish the term.

In the hallways where rumors run and lobbyists know things never go as planned, there’s less certainty about the future.  There’s a series of low probability scenarios.  None of them will likely occur, but together there’s a still a lot of danger… Gardner investigation, Confide investigation, Al Watkin’s has more tapes/collateral material, Mission Continues investigation, and biggest of all: what we don’t know.

In the House there are a lot of private discussions, and no movement.  Who will file a resolution calling an investigation?  I thought Speaker Todd Richardson would step up, take the heat for his caucus and move it forward.  I’ve been wrong.  So far, it’s a lot of people pointing at someone else to do it.

In Senate, as witnessed yesterday on the floor, some senators are anxious for an investigation into various aspects of the scandal.  These are Republicans.  And they’re making it clear that they’re not going to let this go quietly away.

Finally, Democrats generally can’t believe their luck.  They have a Republican governor with a tarnished image who won’t resign. It’s the best of all possible scenarios for them.  Imagine their glee as Republicans fall back on two talking points: It’s a private matter (governor); you can’t impeach the guy for acting sleazy (everyone else).


Q&A #2: Is Civil Service Reform Actual Reform?

Short answer: Could be.


Whether because of the scandal distraction or other reasons.  Recent announcements from the governor’s office has been lacking details or specificity.  For example, next week, Governor Eric Greitens will finally provide unveil the tax reform/cut he promised in the State of the State speech.  Likewise, several of the chucks of cuts/efficiencies in his budget presentation haven’t been identified yet.

This same vagueness applies to the civil service reforms the budget summary described as critical to providing a $650 pay raise to state employees.  It hasn’t been fleshed out yet with the legislature. That prompted some immediate push-back.  I quoted one earlier in the week who worried that it would threaten the good government model of protecting workers from a pure patronage system.

One bill filed in the House to address the civil service merit system offers at least one perspective.  It’s HB 1967 sponsored by Rep. Curtis TrentSee it here.

And it’s not a total return to patronage. While it puts a lot power in the hands of the governor to  promulgate new rules to cover civil service, there are still boundaries.

From the bill:  Political endorsements shall not be considered in connection with any [such] appointment to a position in an executive agency of the state… No person shall use or promise to use, directly or indirectly, for any consideration whatsoever, any official authority or influence to secure or attempt to secure for any person an appointment or advantage in appointment to any [such] position in an executive agency of the state or an increase in pay, promotion or other advantage in such employment… No person shall in any manner levy or solicit any financial assistance or subscription for any political party, candidate, political fund, or publication, or for any other political purpose, from any employee in a position [subject to this chapter] in an executive agency of the state, and no such employee shall act as agent in receiving or accepting any such financial contribution, subscription, or assignment of pay.  No person shall use, or threaten to use, coercive means to compel an employee to give such assistance, subscription, or support, nor in retaliation for the employee's failure to do so….

One veteran opines: I actually think the merit system ought to be reformed a bit. There are some weird kinds of things there that could be tweaked… But this approach strikes me as ridiculous and that the chances this Governor could pull it off given his level of competency are basically zero…


Onder Pounds Anthem

On Twitter Sen. Bob Onder continues his criticism of Anthem wheich he began on the Senate floor a few days ago.  See it here“Anthem expands unconscionable policy of denying ER claims and discouraging needed care in doctors’ offices. That’s why I filed #SB928 to protect patients and ensure needed care. #moleg”

Anthem’s lobbyists in Jefferson City are: Nikki Strong, Katherine Casas, Scott Swain, David Smith, Brian Grace, Rodney Boyd, and Kelvin Simmons.


Roe See Schemes Within Schemes

Following widespread reports of a robo-poll involving Congresswoman Ann Wagner and the U.S. Senate race, Republican consultant Jeff Roe offers a theory on twitter.  See it here“.@clairecmc I wonder who is doing the GOP robo-calls last night to GOP county chairman? The press seems baffled. Meddling at its best. How I Helped Todd Akin Win — So I Could Beat Him Later - POLITICO Magazine...”


Nasheed Announces for Board President

As expected, Sen. Jamilah Nasheed announced that she will run for St. Louis President of the Board of Aldermen next Spring. So far it looks like a three-way race.  Alderwoman Megan Green and incumbent Board President Lewis Reed are also in. Here is her announcement video.

For over a decade, I've served St. Louis at our state capitol. I'm proud of my work giving a voice to the voiceless on issues like civil rights, women's health and a living wage, fighting to improve our schools and stop crime, all the while bringing millions of dollars back home to serve our communities.

I love our city. And I know we can make it better. We have so much to be proud of in St. Louis, but also so much work left to do.

We need a change.


White Houser Johnny DeStefano

Washington Post reports that KC native Johnny DeStefano (brother-in-law to Centene lobbyist Shawn Furey) is thistight with Trump’s chief of staff John KellySee it here.

Kelly’s views on personnel and policy are shared only with a group of people he trusts, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, also a former general. At the White House, he confides in White House aide Johnny DeStefano, deputy Joe Hagin and Rob Porter, the president’s staff secretary.


Williams Appointed to OPC

The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) announced that Hampton Williams has been appointed as Public Counsel for the Office of the Public Counsel, the agency that represents the public and the interests of utility customers before the Public Service Commission.


Lobbyists Registrations

Brent Evans added HHS Technology Group LLC; and deleted ECP LLC, Zarren Properties LLC, and Diamond Game.

Zach Brunnert, Franc Flotron, Richard McIntosh, and David McCracken added Breathable Baby.

Mike Gibbons and Tricia Workman added CenturyLink.

Tony Dugger added Alliance for Responsible Consumer Legal Funding.

William Gamble, Kathryn Gamble, and David Jackson added Parternship for Affordable Clean Energy.


$5K+ Contributions

Missouri Senate Campaign Committee - $7,000 from Caremark Rx Inc.

Midwest Region Laborers’ Political League Education Fund - $6,709 from Laborers Supplemental Dues Fund.

Civic Progress Action Committee - $7,500 from Centene Management Company LLC.

Civic Progress Action Committee - $13,000 from Enterprise Holdings Inc. Political Action Committee.



Happy birthdays to Ken Franklin.

Saturday: Sen. Jill Schupp, and Mary Scruggs.

Sunday: Melanie Adams, and Van Kelly.