Last week the Missouri Times held an event to honor Governor Mike Parson as “Statesman of the Year.” The event featured free drinks. And MOTimes’ Scott Faughn listed lobbyists and other lobbying principals “for making such an awesome event possible.”
This raises red flags that the lobbyists were indirectly buying the freebees for legislators in attendance. That’s a violation of the lobbyist gift cap language of CLEAN Missouri.
“No person serving as a member of or employed by the General Assembly shall accept directly or indirectly a gift of any tangible or intangible item, service, or thing of value from any paid lobbyist or lobbyist principal in excess of five dollar per occurrence.”
A few things to note:
· First, SuperAttorney Chuck Hatfield has previously commented that really there’s nothing in CLEAN that makes it illegal for lobbyists to offer a gift – or a third-party like Faughn to act as a conduit for an illegal gift. The responsibility rests with the legislators to not take the gift.
· Second, the “indirectly” part of CLEAN – assuming it applies to events like this where the lobbyists are underwriting the freebees – means legislators (and governors too for that matter) have to be aware of the circumstances when free drinks and food are being supplied.
· Finally, Faughn could use his “bags of cash” excuse and claim “I bought the freebees; the freebees are from me, not the lobbyists.” That’s undermined by the thank you note for “making the event possible.” However if that flies, it’s blown a huge loophole for lobbyists and legislators to use third-parties as a front to circumvent the new law.
January Revenues Plummet
As of the close of business January 31, the state revenues were negative 6.96% compared to the year earlier. That translates to 382 million fewer dollars in the state coffers.
Overall January’s net revenue collection was 24% below January of 2018.
In the coming months, budget officials expect the numbers to become more buoyant as Missourians start to file their 2018 returns and make up the difference. However it will be a couple of nerve-wracking months, because they’re expecting most of the ground to be made up in April.
If those projections don’t hold, it’ll probably be too late for significant withholds and the state will be forced to make up the difference with its cash surplus. And remember Governor Mike Parson’s 2019-2020 budget recommendations make use of that surplus. Without it, his budget needs some revising.
MOScout Poll: STL City Poll
This week’s poll looks at St. Louis City issues. It shows crime as the top local issue, net favorable job approval for Mayor Lyda Krewson, early favorable opinion of a city-county merger, and incumbent Lewis Reed with the early lead in the President of Board of Aldermen race. I expect Sen. Jamilah Nasheed to close the gap as she deploys her resources and Reed’s name ID advantage declines.
Survey conducted January 31 through February 1, 2019. 621 likely March 2019 Democratic Primary Election voters participated in the survey. Margin of Error is +/-3.9%.
Q1: Do you approve or disapprove of Lyda Krewson’s job performance as Mayor of St. Louis?
Not sure: 33%
Q2: The candidates in the March Democratic Primary Election for President of the Board of Aldermen are Jamilah Nasheed, Megan Ellyia Green, Lewis Reed, and Jimmie Matthews. If the election were held today, for whom would you vote?
Jamilah Nasheed: 17%
Megan Ellyia Green: 13%
Lewis Reed: 42%
Jimmie Matthews: 5%
Q3: How much have you heard about a proposal to merge governments in St. Louis City and St. Louis County?
A lot: 56%
A little: 36%
Nothing at all: 8%
Q4: Based on what you’ve heard about a proposal to merge government in St. Louis City and St. Louis County, would you support or oppose the proposal?
Not sure: 25%
Q5: What should be the top priority for the City of St. Louis?
Reducing crime: 50%
Improving education: 16%
Increasing economic development: 13%
Expanding public transportation: 2%
Something else: 4%
Not sure: 15%
MOScout’s Hallway Index: GOP Legislative Agenda
I asked the hallway walkers which piece of the Republican legislative agenda will be hardest to pass? 29 replies…
1. $22 million Fast Track scholarship fund… 10.4%
2. $350 million bond issue for bridge repair… 34.4%
3. Educational Saving Account tax credit… 34.4%
4. Joinder and venue tort reform… 20.7%
Sample of Comments
· With the conservatives in the Senate already circling the wagon and with the Governor making [bonding] his biggest priority, everyone is going to use it as leverage to get something from him.
· A ton of pro education republicans in the House. A governor that doesn’t want controversial education bills on his desk. It’s not nearly as friendly of a situation as it was the past two years with Greitens pushing it and they couldn’t get it done then.
Who Won the Week?
Nancy Rice – The fairy godmother of St. Louis City Dems rolls out an ambitious plan to overhaul the St. Louis region’s governance. It’s bold, yet seemingly within reach.
Gregg Keller – Helped oust Eric Greitens, helped lift Josh Hawley, now he’s Parson’s Victory Chairman. You’d be hard-pressed to find an operative who’s had a more impactful last year than Keller. Seems to be in the middle of everything.
Jay Ashcroft – Wins praises from House Budget Committee Chair Cody Smith as the only statewide elected official he’s ever seen present his department’s budget without help from staffers.
Eric Schmitt – Most underrated story of the year may be the staff Schmitt is putting together. One politico calls it a “murders row of top-notch hires.”
Caleb Rowden – A smooth beginning to his tenure as Majority Floor Leader inside the building and viral support for his statement in support of MIZZOU against the NCAA outside the building. If people in JC and Columbia both like you, you’re clearly doing something right.
Joan Gummels – Congrats to Gummels on a well-deserved retirement, and not having to come back to the Capitol next week…
Aaron Baker and Hannah Beers added Missouri Cable Telecommunications Association.
Aaron Baker added The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter.
Trent Ford added Delta Queen Steamboat Company.
David Willis and Rebecca Lohmann added Missouri Century Foundation.
Scott Swain added Tiger Fiber and Strategic Capital Consulting LLC.
Jean Dugan deleted Jean Dugan.
Winston Edward Calvert deleted Securus Technologies, Inc. c/o Gateway Government Relations LLC.