Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Morning Wowza: Russians Meddling With Mizzou?

Rudi Keller reports that “Russian Twitter trolls pounced on the University of Missouri’s woes in 2015 using the same techniques they applied to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, a U.S. Air Force officer wrote in an article published recently in Strategic Studies Quarterly.”  See it here.


First in MOScout: Ausmus Sues for Age Discrimination

Mark Ausmus filed a lawsuit earlier this month alleging that he was fired from the Department of Revenue because of his age.  The termination occurred in March of 2017.  The lawsuit claims that Ausmus was, at age 61, one of the oldest attorneys at DOR at the time of his dismissal.

Ausmus was chief of staff to Speaker Bob Griffin decades ago.


Q&A #1: Is the Senate on Track to Be Productive This Session?

Short answer: Off to a great start compared to last year.


Last week’s perfecting of the utility bill was a huge milestone for the Senate.  And while the tax reform package which passed out of the Way and Means Committee yesterday seems like too big of a lift to accomplish this session, the ability to advance the utility legislation has created a temporary mood of “all things possible.”

The Senate is a mercurial creature and this change may ultimately be short-lived.  But a number of factors appear to be involved in change in atmosphere.

First, Governor Eric Greitens’ behavior especially related to the State Board of Education together with Pro Tem Ron Richard’s vocal support for the institution of the Senate have helped to unite the Senate.

Second, this being the final year of Richard and Floor Leader Mike Kehoe’s tenure in leadership has also mellowed the “dissident” faction.  They no longer have to fear a long reign.

Third, the exit of Sen. Ryan Silvey – thought to be the mastermind of much of the rebel action – has significantly reduce their firepower.

Fourth and maybe most importantly, the willingness to wait out the three Republican senators on the utility bill.  One hallway source thinks that other top priorities of the Republican caucus will follow this playbook.  If there’s only two or three members of the caucus opposed, they may decide to push through.

We’re in February folks, so it’s early in the game, but things now are moving along alright.


St. Charles as Battlefield

Two political observers weighed in St. Charles County as a 2018 battlefield.

“In House districts 65 and 108, the Democratic candidates received in 2016 43% and 42%.  If you add in the 7-8% bump we saw in last Tuesday's MO House elections, both Democratic candidates win in those two St Charles county district… plus the partial St. Charles County district is House 70 where Bill Otto just declared. In 2016 the Democratic candidate received 46% .  There could be three democratic state republicans from St Charles in 2019…

And: “St Charles *city* is the most dem part of St Charles County. And St Charles County, which was once 2/3 Republican, is now closer to 55-45...”


Wright Jones Loses Appeal

Former Sen. Robin Wright Jones, who has been appealing her $200K+ fine from the Missouri Ethics Commission, lost her appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.  See the ruling here.  Among their findings: it’s a fee, not a fine.  Who knew?


CREW: Roe Involved in Money Scheme

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says that Axiom Strategies was involved in the scheme that resulted in the American Conservative Union paying a $350K fine. See it here.

Pull Quote: Prominent political operative Jeff Roe, who ran Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) 2016 presidential campaign, was intimately involved in a 2012 conduit contribution scheme that resulted in the American Conservative Union (ACU) paying a $350,000 fine, according to documents released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Though the FEC did not allege that Roe broke any rules, the lawyer who facilitated the transaction, James Thomas III, told the commission he “primarily took direction” from Roe.

Here’s the background: On October 31, 2012, ACU made a $1.71 million contribution to Now or Never PAC, a super PAC. The FEC determined that an obscure corporate entity called Government Integrity, LLC (GI LLC) provided the money ACU gave to Now or Never PAC. GI LLC was funded by another — still secret — source “[o]n or around October 31, 2012.” The FEC ultimately fined ACU, GI LLC, Now or Never PAC, and Thomas for violating the law against making, knowingly accepting, or knowingly allowing one’s name to be used for a contribution in the name of another.  

In addition to serving as the treasurer of Now or Never PAC, Thomas, an ally of Roe, also provided legal services to GI LLC, putting him on both sides of the transaction…


Ads Against McCaskill

Bloomberg reports that “[t]he political network backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch is launching a $4 million advertising campaign against two Senate Democrats facing re-election in 2018, as it starts to fulfill a pledge to spend $20 million selling the federal tax overhaul passed late last year. The television and online ads are critical of Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri for voting against the legislation. They’re two of the 10 Senate Democrats on the ballot in states won by President Donald Trump in 2016 and potentially vulnerable to Republican challengers.  The Koch-affiliated group Americans for Prosperity is sponsoring the ads, which are scheduled to start Thursday and run for about three weeks…

See the ad here.


Hawley Against “Secret, Forced Arbitration”

Yesterday the press release from Attorney General Josh Hawley declared that he “joined a bipartisan coalition of 56 states and territories urging Congress to end secret, forced arbitration in cases of workplace sexual harassment. Too often employees are required to sign employment contracts containing arbitration agreements mandating that sexual harassment claims be resolved through private arbitration instead of the judicial process. The secrecy surrounding these proceedings can protect serial violators and provide inadequate relief to victims…”

It seemed to put him at odds with Rep. Kevin Corlew’s HB 1512.  Rep. Jay Barnes has been critical of it for reasons similar to what Hawley stated.

One Republican asks… “How can the Republican caucus expect its members to vote for a bill that the AG is on record as opposing?  Is our party in such disarray that we can’t get on the same page regarding this issue?..”


Fitzpatrick Reminds Folk to Show Up

At one of yesterday’s Budget hearings, Rep. Ingrid Burnett asked a question about the Missouri Charter Public School Commission and Budget Chair Scott Fitzpatrick replied, “Where’s Robyn Wahby?”  Wahby is the executive director of the commission.  When it became clear that she wasn’t present, he said that Wahby should call Josh Hawley and see how it works out when you don’t show up for a budget hearing.  Then, shaking his head, added, “Well is anyone looking for GR?”


Roberts V Walker Continues

According to Casenet, Rep. Steven Roberts II case against Rep. Cora Walker continues.  The latest entry indicates that Roberts’ motion to dismiss the defendants’ counterclaim was granted.


Greitens and GOP Judicial Candidates

One MOScouter writes… Governor Eric Greitens’ eroding popularity and indifference to local Republican leaders is manifesting itself in Mid-Missouri judicial races. The governor is reportedly close to picking a new associate circuit judge to succeed Democrat Deb Daniels, who plans to step down Feb. 28 because she will be turning the mandatory retirement age of 70 later this year. The 13th Circuit is comprised of Boone and Callaway counties.

The Boone County Democratic Central Committee was meeting Tuesday evening to select a Democrat to suggest to the GOP governor – a choice that has about as much chance as a match in a windstorm. But at least they’re advancing a name, which the Boone County Republican Central Committee so far hasn’t bothered to do, and may not, according to Chairman Mike Zweifel. That’s because the committee hasn’t received any message from Greitens asking for a recommendation, and party bylaws make a quick meeting impossible, Zweifel told the Columbia Daily Tribune.

“After the committee’s recommendation of Richard Hicks for the post vacated in the summer by retired Judge Christine Carpenter was passed over by Greitens in favor of Brouck Jacobs, there may not be much reason to make a recommendation, Zweifel said. “On the whole I am telling people to apply directly to the governor’s office,” Zweifel said. “We recommended Richard Hicks last time and that didn’t work out so well for us recommending. It is up to the governor’s office. If they want to make an appointment this week, it is up to them.”

Meanwhile, Jacobs uses a direct quote from Greitens-  but weirdly omits the governor’s actual name - in his bio on his @KeepJudgeJacobs campaign Facebook page: “Judge Jacobs was appointed to the bench on October 13, 2017 by the Governor, who had this to say about him: “Brouck Jacobs is committed to serving the people of Boone and Callaway Counties. As a prosecutor, he worked tirelessly to promote justice and has served with integrity. I am pleased to appoint him as the newest circuit judge for the 13th Judicial Circuit and I look forward to him serving for years to come.”


Meet Aligned

The Alliance for Childhood Education has rebranded as Aligned.

From their email blast… After many years of state-level education advocacy on behalf of business leaders, we realized we were naturally delivering a consistent message and asking policymakers to "align" the resources of education institutions with the needs of the business community to promote workforce readiness.

While we will always be an alliance working on behalf of childhood education, we see our role as more than just advocates. We are business leaders working to leverage the impact of employers to ensure students are prepared for success in a 21st century economy.

See the website here.


eMailbag on Dowd Bennett Repping Greitens on Confide

They aren't representing the state, they are representing him.  An individual potentially has personal civil liability under the Sunshine Law.  That's what their representation is covering.  Think about it- it makes less sense for the AG to be investigating him and then also defending him. That's clearly a conflict.  What's going on now is not a conflict under the Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct. 


New Committees

David Martin formed a candidate committee (Missourians For David Martin) to run for House 23 as a Republican.  The current incumbent is Barbara Washington.

William Falkner formed a candidate committee (Citizens For Falkner) to run for House 10 as a Republican.  The current incumbent, Pat Conway, is termed.

Bill Otto formed a candidate committee (Committee To Elect Bill Otto) to run for House 65 as a Democrat.  The current incumbent is Rep. Tom Hannegan.

Boris Abadzhyan formed a candidate committee (Boris Abadzhyan For Missouri 71) to run for House 71 as a Democrat.  The current representative, Sue Meredith, isn’t running for re-election.

Karan Pujji formed a candidate committee (Karanpujji.Com) to run as a Republican for House 88.  His deputy treasurer is Michael Hafner. The current incumbent is Rep. Tracy McCreery.

Matthew Merryman formed a candidate committee (Merryman4jackson) to run for Jackson County Executive.

Paul Love formed a candidate committee (Friends Of Paul Love) to run for Council Person Ward 2 City of Columbia.


Help Wanted

Missouri Department of Mental Health seeks Budget Analyst.  “The Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Administrative Services, has a vacancy for a Budget Analyst III available in Central Office, Jefferson City, MO…. Opportunities: Learn the ins and outs of state government budgeting and the legislative process through production of budget documents and attendance at legislative hearings.  Such skills are widely marketable throughout state government; Research and analyze topics and present recommendations regarding important budget and policy matters; Network with DMH staff and budget analysts at the State Budget Office, House Appropriations, Senate Appropriations, and other governmental staff… Salary:   $44,352 - $55,368…”


Missouri Department of Social Services seeks Deputy General Counsel.  “The Department of Social Services, Division of Legal Services has an opening for a Deputy General Counsel. The position will be based at the Division of Legal Services office in Jefferson City. The duties of the position include: Leading the team of lawyers who represent the Department of Social Services, The Missouri Children’s Division and other DSS agencies in legal matters across the state. Practice areas include: child welfare, child abuse/neglect, privacy law, contracts, health care law, administrative law and other matters… Annual salary range: $65,000 - $75,000….”  See it here.


Lobbyists Registrations

J “Bret” Johnson, Heath Clarkston, Doug Nelson, Harry Gallagher, and Kurt Schaefer added Association of Global Automakers Inc.

Jonathan Dalton added Notarize Inc., and Maverick Consulting Group.

Analea Patterson added Major League Baseball, and National Basketball Association.

Dillon Hosier added Israeli-American Coalition for Action.

Derek Leffery added Missouri Common Ground Alliance.

Holly Neill added The Nature Conservancy.

Marc Reece added Aetna.

Brad Roseberry added Coalition Against Bigger Trucks.

Noel Torpey deleted Clay County.



Happy birthday Katie Jamboretz, Jeff Altmann, and Michael Moorefield.