Thursday, April 26 - Gov Runs from Reporters, House Lawyers Up, The Lonely Speaker

Greitens Emerges Briefly Then Runs Away

Governor Eric Greitens was spotted on the fourth floor of the Capitol yesterday.  His security detail outside the office of Rep. John Wiemann gave him away.

Soon the press gathered to ask him questions.  See one video of it here.

Post-Dispatch description here“Gov. Eric Greitens made a rare appearance on the fourth floor of the Missouri Capitol on Wednesday, bodyguards in tow, as he met with some of the Republican lawmakers who hold his fate in their hands. Reporters waited outside a fourth floor office and followed Greitens, a Republican, down a stairwell as he headed back to his second-floor office suite. They asked whether he still uses a cellphone app which deletes text messages, took a donor list from his charity without its permission, shot a compromising photo of his lover and if he plans to resign…”

What It Means

Same as it did yesterday.  This is governor singularly focused on political survival.  And that means he’s unable to travel outside of a very controlled bubble.  And when he does, he requires taxpayer funded security team to keep reporters at a distance.  Otherwise he might have to answer about the misdeeds of which he’s accused.

Also from the Post Article

Talk of the Disability Board...  I’d heard this a few weeks ago.  Seems far-fetched to me.

The so-called disability board would comprise the top two leaders in the House and Senate and all of the statewide officers except for Greitens.

If a majority of the board determines that Greitens “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” Article 4 of the Missouri Constitution says, he would be suspended from exercising the duties of his office, but he would still be paid and could live in the governor’s mansion until his case in the Senate is resolved. If Greitens objects, the case would be decided by the Supreme Court, according to the Constitution.

A member of House leadership, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the provision in the Constitution has been discussed. “A lot of people have asked,” the person said.

Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, a former state senator from Bolivar and a Republican, would step in as governor if Greitens were suspended.

Attorney Ross Garber, an impeachment expert who has been retained by the governor’s office, said that scenario is “completely inapplicable” because Greitens is still able to perform his duties.

Meanwhile

The House Investigative Committee announced it was lawyering up, perhaps in preparation for the drafting of impeachment articles.  See the KCStar article here.

Pull Quote:  [T]he Missouri House hired a former state Supreme Court chief justice to assist in its investigation of the governor. Edward "Chip" Robertson will serve as special counsel for the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight… Robertson was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 1985 by then-Gov. John Ashcroft, a Republican, and was chief justice from 1991 to 1993. He served on the court in 1994, when Secretary of State Judith Moriarty, a Democrat, was impeached by the Missouri House and removed from office by the state Supreme Court… Joining Robertson as special counsel for the House committee is attorney Mark Kempton of Sedalia, a former Pettis County prosecutor. The two attorneys are not being paid anything other than any out-of-pocket expenses they incur…

And

AP reports what everyone already knows.  You can’t take the nonprofit list and use it for your campaign.  See it here.

 

Leader for Our Time

Senate Pro Tem Ron Richard has mentioned a few times during his recent press availabilities about the stress that the Greitens scandals have put on Speaker Todd Richardson.   He’s joked that the speaker is smoking more, losing weight etc.

It’s true.

For starters, he’s in uncharted territory as the prospect of impeachment looms.  There’s no roadmap, and no playbook, and no sage counsel about pitfalls ahead.

And magnifying this challenge is his caucus.  The Republican supermajority means that Richardson has a diverse caucus.  There are lot of different opinions about the governor and how to proceed, from the shrugging Bill Whites to the outraged Marsha Haefners.  Richardson is trying to keep everyone together, even as no one quite knows where they’re headed.

One insider says that the most important line in Richardson’s statement earlier in the month was that the House will not take the impeachment “responsibility lightly, nor will we act rashly, but we will not shrink from it.”

This is the path to which Richardson has committed.  To do the right thing.  And to do it with careful deliberation so his caucus (as well as the Democrats, and the Senate, and the entire political community) has time to digest each step.

It’s not an easy path because human nature, and political instinct, are to move decisively and get the governor – his adulterous behavior, and selfish misdeeds – out of the picture as quickly as possible.

Instead, Richardson is making sure each step forward is on solid ground so that everyone is traversing this journey together.  It’s a lonely job because several factions and individuals are pulling in different directions.

Inside Richardson’s circle of trust are folks who genuinely have his best interest at heart and in whom he can rely.  Chief among them is Robert Knodell, who Richardson sought to return and run the House Republican Campaign Committee.  Also in the circle are chief of staff Kenny Ross and former staffer David Willis.  Richardson also has an implicit trust of his Budget Chair Scott Fitzpatrick and Rep. Jay Barnes, even if he doesn’t always agree with what they’re up to at any given time.  And on the other side of the building Richardson has a close relationship with Sen. Mike Cierpiot from their time in the House.

 

Follow-Up on Opioid Emergency

Governing Magazine looks at the impact of President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on opioid addiction.  See it here.

Pull Quote:  On Oct. 26 last year, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic -- which took more than 64,000 lives in 2016 -- a national emergency. More specifically, he declared it a public health emergency, which can be used to ease some federal rules for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to, among other things, make more people eligible for Medicaid or dispatch more medical professionals to the areas hit hardest by the drug crisis.

The declaration has already been extended twice, most recently on Tuesday. But health policy experts say it's unclear what -- if any -- HHS rules have been waived since the declaration. Moreover, Trump did not directly offer state and local governments more money to combat the drug crisis. Because of this, some say the declaration has been nothing more than an empty promise….

Before the emergency declaration, Trump assembled an opioid commission to explore the best tactics the federal government could deploy to stem the tide of overdoses. A final report was released in November, with some bipartisan recommendations, such as removing barriers to treatment and increasing access to drug courts that divert people struggling with addiction from jail.  But even those who worked on the commission's 138-page report have said that the administration has no plan to systematically address the epidemic….

 

Bits

Riverfront Times writes about Josh Hawley always being at the gym.  See it here.  I’ll say I’ve heard the exact same story from two different lobbyists a few weeks ago.  Apparently the guy is a total gym rat.

 

A lot of the usual names vying for a panel for Scott Millikan vacancy in St. Louis City.  For example, former Rep. Mike Colona, former circuit attorney candidate Mary Pat Carl, mayoral chief of staff Tim O’Connell, and the wife of Board President Lewis Reed, Mary Entrup. But there was one new name… former Rep. Connie LaJoyce Johnson.  After a stint in DC, I believe she’s back in Missouri working for City Treasurer Tishaura Jones.

 

New Committees

Marcie Nichols formed a candidate committee (Marcie Nichols Campaign) to run for House 119 as a Democrat.

Matthew Michel formed a candidate committee (We The People For Matt Michel) to run for House 153 as a Democrat.

 

Today’s Events

Rep. Michael Butler Fundraiser (running for St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds) at The Fortune Teller Bar, St. Louis – 5PM.

Kickoff Fundraising Happy Hour for Erica Hoffman (Dem, House 96) at Maggie O’Brien’s, Sunset Hills – 5:30PM.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Kenneth Quinn added US Term Limits.

Ross Garber added Office of the Governor of Missouri.

J “Bret” Johnson deleted Help Inc.

 

$5K+ Contributions

We Are Missouri - $10,000 from Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.

Middle Class Missouri PAC - $6,200 from Robb & Robb LLC.

Middle Class Missouri PAC - $12,400 from Langdon & Emison LLC.

We are Missouri - $88,170 from Missouri ALF-CIO General Fund.

Missouri Values - $10,000 from Liberty Alliance.

Committee for a Healthy Community - $10,513 from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

We Are Missouri - $100,000 from Sheet Metal Workers Local #2.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthday to Jennifer Bauer, Khalil Mumin, and Caleb Arthur.