Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Shady Shady

Citizens for Ethics reported yesterday (see it here)…

Nick Ayers, a Republican political operative now working in the Trump White House as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, revealed on his executive branch financial disclosure form that he consulted for Freedom Frontier, a nonprofit responsible for funneling more than $4 million in secret money into a super PAC backing one of his clients. The revelation raises questions about whether Missouri Governor Eric Greitens’ gubernatorial campaign, where Ayers served as the “general consultant,” knew the secret source of the super PAC’s funding, even as the public was kept in the dark.

Greitens’ 2016 campaign was backed by two federal super PACs, each completely funded by nonprofit groups that are not required to disclose their donors. This dead-end disclosure scheme effectively served to keep the true source of millions of dollars spent to boost Greitens a secret. At the time, Missouri reporters noted that Greitens campaign consultant Ayers had ties to a lawyer affiliated with one of the nonprofits boosting Greitens with dark money. Ayers’ White House financial disclosure is the first confirmation that he actually worked with one of the nonprofits…

Ayers’ disclosure raises new questions about comments made by then-candidate Greitens about the relationship between his campaign and one of the super PACs backing him. Following a report during the campaign of LG PAC’s treasurer chatting with Greitens at an event, Greitens denied having any relationship with the man, Hank Monsees, or “anyone associated” with him. The filing shows that one of Greitens’ campaign advisers, Ayers, has a connection to the nonprofit that funded Monsees’ super PAC, and suggests that Greitens’ claim may not have been completely accurate….

Beyond entities associated with this dark money network, Ayers’ financial disclosure also reveals another secret money connection. Ayers’ C5 Creative Consulting has done work for A New Missouri, Inc, a nonprofit set up to promote Greitens’ agenda as governor. The controversial group, which is run by Ayers’ protege and Greitens’ top adviser, Austin Chambers

The Point

We still don’t know where the money – millions of dollars – actually came from.  Was it David Humphreys? Was it Michael Goguen? Why hide it?  Was it someone or some entity that wants something – like to run pensions or some big state contract?

 

Q&A#1: Does This Latest Revelation Change Anything?

Short answer: Nope.  And that’s bad news for Republicans.

 

This is one more story in the calcifying narrative about Governor Eric Greitens’ ethics shortcomings.  It wouldn’t amount to much by itself.  But these stories are piling on top of each other.

It started by not fully disclosing the amounts his inaugural donors gave – something all other governors have done.  Then the non-profit to be used as a political committee so the donors didn’t have to be disclosed.  Then the guilty plea to an ethics violation, and the unanswered questions about how his campaign obtained the Mission Continues’ donor list.  Then last week’s Hancock article about Confide, an app to destroy texts which likely contain public records.

Considering that “cleaning up Jefferson City” was arguably the cornerstone of Greitens’ campaign, it’s stunning that he’s allowed his administration to be run this way.  And for very little benefit.

What is the benefit of not saying how much the inaugural donors gave?  What is the benefit of using Confide?

The downside is that this behavior is becoming part of who he is as governor.  It’s unchallenged.  His base isn’t cheering his secret non-profit set-up.  Republicans denounce it on the Senate floor more often than Democrats do.

It is degrading his brand.

 

Meet Missouri Values

Missouri Values was formed.  It’s a campaign committee which supports various initiative petitions which would likely appeal to the Republican base voters.

They are: an anti-sanctuary city petition, a “right to remember” petition which appears to be crafted to address the current controversy over confederate memorials by changing the constitution to make them only removable by an act of the general assembly, and election of justices to the state supreme court and court of appeals.

Pat Thomas filed the petitions which haven’t been approved for circulation yet.  Thomas is treasurer of the Missouri Republican Party.

 

Labor Bets Big on Taking Case Directly to the Voters

In the large contributions (below), organized labor continues to put lots of money toward next year’s ballot initiatives.  There’s $350K into the anti-right to work referendum.  And the latest of many checks to CLEAN Missouri.  The CLEAN petition is wide-ranging.  Among other provisions, it would change the process for redistricting which Dems think has reduced their ability to compete in many legislative races.

Next year is a pivotal year for organized labor.  Having suffered setbacks in the Missouri legislature, they are taking their case directly to the voters.  If they lose these battles, it’s hard to see where they would be able to mount any resistance to policies they oppose.

 

Missouri State Medical Association Shuffle

Heidi Geisbuhler Sutherland is now Director Of Legislative Affairs at Missouri State Medical Association.  She takes the place of Kenny Jackson.  According to LinkedIn, Jackson is now Business Operations Manager at Fischer Concrete Services, LLC / Ozark Ready Mix Company Inc.

And

Former Rep. Joe Smith is now a Field Agent at Knights of Columbus

 

Committee Amendments

See the committee amendment of former Rep. Sue Allen to run for alderman in Town and County, Ward 4 here.

 

New Committees

Barry Hovis formed a candidate committee (Friends Of Barry Hovis) to run for House 146 as a Republican.  The current incumbent, Donna Lichtenegger is termed.

Megan Green formed a candidate committee (Megan Green For St Louis) to run for President of the Board of Alderman as a Democrat.

MOPAC to the Future was formed.  It’s a PAC.  Its treasurer is Bryan J Sanger.

Supporters of A Better SJSD was formed.  It’s a PAC It’s treasurer is Eldon Green.  The committee of the same name which operated as a campaign committee to stop a tax increase earlier this year was terminated.

Missouri Values was formed.  It’s a campaign committee which supports various initiative petitions.  Its treasurer is William Greim Jr.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Andy Arnold added Missouri Independent Bankers Association.

Edens Davis added American Research and Policy Institute.

Ian Patrick Dunlap added Heartland Credit Union Association; and deleted Missouri Department of Public Safety.

Salvatore Panettiere added South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

 

$5K+ Contributions

CLEAN Missouri - $50,000 from Western MO & KS Laborers District Council.

Missouri Insurance Political Action Committee - $10,000 from RightChoice Managed Care Inc.

We Are Missouri - $350,000 from Committee to Protect MO Families.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Rep. Nick Schroer, Greg Porter, and Josh Haynes.