Follow-Up on Ashcroft and MOPress Spat
I wrote yesterday about the testimony of Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft bemoaning the suddenly price increases his office saw when trying to place ads about upcoming election. It generated a fair amount of traffic on my phone.
· One building insider thought it was part of the broader narrative – accelerated by President Donald Trump – of Republicans using traditional media as a foil. And that it shows the strength of his last name with the Republican base. “He has no fear of the press.”
· But another observer said it was a “shortsighted… Four of the top six largest-percentage advertising price jumps Ashcroft criticized were by papers owned by the extremely conservative Rust family of Cape Girardeau; Mike Jensen, publisher of the Rusts’ Sikeston paper that was singled out (“despicable” in its price change, hissed Ashcroft), writes a personal column that culturally tacks with the most right-wing Trump supporters. First, the Rusts are honest and smart business people - if the quoted was revised upward, there had to be a valid reason and to suggest a lack of commitment to public service by the Rusts is despicable. Second, the Rusts keep putting resources into 15 small-market newspapers with conservative editorial voices in Missouri’s Trumpiest areas. Fine for Ashcroft to bash anything to do with the two largest liberal metro dailies, but attacking (and financially undermining) the most conservative newspaper family in Missouri is just dumb….”
Meanwhile Parson Press Honeymoon Continues
One MOScouter reports that Governor Mike Parson was very well-received by mostly outstate editors at Thursday’s annual Missouri Press Association/Associated Press Day at the Capitol. Parson, unprompted, asked the assembled media for continued prayers for St. Louis Post-Dispatch politics and national editor Christopher Ave’s wife, Melanie, who is still recovering from a car crash a few weeks ago. The governor noted Ave has been a regular guest at past governors’ media luncheons. Eric Greitens likely won’t forget last year’s lunch, when Ave pressed him on slippery wording of nondenials about taking a woman’s seminude photo at his home.
Parson also recognized Joplin Globe editor Carol Stark, who this week started what will be several weeks’ of taking an experimental medicine for cancer. He thanked her for tough but fair coverage through the years, and said he and the audience are in awe of her courage. It was sincere and unstudied. The governor was introduced by First Lady Teresa Parson, who earlier greeted every guest at the iced tea and lemonade table. The last First Couple to do it that way, an MPA historian said, were Mel and Jean Carnahan about 25 years ago. A historically Democratic-leaning editor remarked: “The Parsons are real people. They have good manners and have returned graciousness to the mansion. Hard to beat that when it’s sincere.”
Follow-Up on Ashcroft and His Love of Libraries
One reader reminded me of this news item from 1990, written by then-AP reporter Scott Charton, featuring Jay Ashcroft’s younger brother Andy. See it here.
The governor’s wife’s after-hours use of the state library to help her 12- year-old son with homework has generated giggles and jabs from the Legislature and an apology from her husband. Janet Ashcroft won’t talk about the 2 1/2 hours she and her son Andy spent in the Missouri State Library on Mother’s Day. Her husband, Gov. John Ashcroft says it was merely a case of a parent trying to help a child. ″I assume that every parent knows that there are times when their kid isn’t as prepared as he ought to be for school, and what you do is you help ’em,″ the governor said Friday… Still, the governor acknowledged that other students probably wouldn’t have been allowed after-hours use of the library, a reference library open on weekdays to the public but used primarily by lawmakers and state employees.
Rumorville: Ballot Candy for Anti-CLEAN?
Republicans are strategizing to overturn the redistricting proposal passed as part of CLEAN Missouri last year. They’re considering various "ballot candy" provisions which could be added to their counter-measure to entice voters to support it.
One idea gaining currency would be a simple lobbyist gift ban. CLEAN created a $5 cap on gifts, so going to a ban would have little practical impact on legislators at this point. But “ban” does sound like a strong reform to voters.
Galloway and Clay Tangle
Auditor Nicole Galloway and the Clay County Commission continued to tangle. Galloway issued a subpoena “after multiple requests for standard information resulted in delays by the county and communication from multiple outside law firms… The information being subpoenaed is commonly requested during the audit process. Within the past two years, the State Auditor's Office has completed more than 40 comprehensive county performance audits in which the same basic information was provided to auditors without the need for a subpoena.”
The Clay County Commission responded with a lawsuit seeking to squash the subpoena, saying that they didn’t want to share closed meeting records that included attorney-client communications.
This is not a good look for the Clay County Commission.
Grove to Mallinckrodt
Sean Grove is leaving BJC, and will start next week at Mallinckrodt as Associate Director, State Government Affairs and Advocacy. Before that Grove staffer various House members.
O’Laughlin Touts School Choice
Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin wrote an op/ed piece explicitly supporting charter expansion and Educational Savings Account. See it here.
In many of our small towns throughout Northeast Missouri, public schools have a major impact on our lives. Rural schools are our biggest employers, and we’re blessed to have some of the best educators in Missouri teaching foundational values to our children. The problem is that public school does not work for every student. Did you know approximately 38 percent of public school students need remedial classes when they continue on into higher education?
What’s even more startling is that some students don’t make it to that point. In 2016, more than 10,000 students dropped out of high school. Those statistics are staggering. These are our children and grandchildren, and they deserve a quality education – not a “one size fits all” experience. I believe every child deserves an excellent education regardless of where they live. That’s why I support school choice in areas with failing schools…
What It Means
The educational reform movement in Missouri has often had trouble solidifying support among rural legislators. They often blame the inertia of local superintendents who exert influence on lawmakers’ positions.
O’Laughin is jumping in with both feet on this issue, and will be strong rural voice arguing for these issues: charter expansion, and tax credits for tuition.
Blunt’s Art of the Deal
KCStar showers love on US Senator Roy Blunt. See it here.
Blunt’s personal ties to Democrats could pay off in the coming weeks as he steps into a leading role in high-stakes negotiations to fund a border security package and avert another costly government shutdown… Blunt’s willingness to work with Democrats does not mean he’s a neutral player, however. His voting record is solidly conservative on immigration and other issues, with a lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union of 86.59 out of 100… Known behind the scenes as one of Capitol Hill’s master deal makers, Blunt has brokered bipartisan agreements in recent years to boost budgets for medical research, expand access to mental health services and update Congress’ rules on sexual harassment.
“He’s a heck of a vote counter,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, referring to Blunt’s previous role as GOP whip in the House. “Some people just figure it out instinctively, I guess. He’s got a feel for the moment.”
If he succeeds in crafting a deal, Blunt could see his clout grow among Republicans in the Senate as he looks to rise in the party’s leadership...
Follow-Up on Haahr Appointment
One building denizen noted that Speaker Elijah Haahr appointment of himself to the Joint Committee on Capitol Security was a formality as the speaker (and the Senate pro tem) is required by statute to serve on the committee.
Casey Wasser added Tiger Fiber.
Kathryn Gamble and Olivia Wilson deleted Empower Missouri.
Joan Gummels deleted Missouri State Auditor's Office.
Transparency Matters was formed. It’s a PAC. Its treasurer is Maria Oropallo.
Theresa Schmitt formed a candidate committee (Citizens For Theresa Schmitt) to run for House 120 as a Democrat.
Michael Hebron formed a candidate committee (Michael Hebron - A Voice For All) to run for St. Louis City Alderman, Ward 6, as a Republican.
Happy birthdays… Saturday: Rep. Elaine Gannon, Judy Moriarty, Steve Hodges, Diane Franklin, Otto Fajen, and Jim Foley.
Sunday: Rep. Warren Love, Paul Fehler, Kent Hampton, Justin Alferman, Jason Crowell, and Dave Hinson.