Talk on Stenger Indictment
The hallways were consumed yesterday with talk of the Stenger indictment. And whether there will be farther ripples. All talk is speculation. Nobody I spoke to claimed to have any inside information. They were just considering possibilities having seen investigations run their course before.
· The one area of consensus in the hallway: this isn’t done yet.
· Folks are asking: where are the other indictments? John Rallo is on every page of Stenger’s indictment; “JC” apparently finagled for phony payments in return for political work. Neither have been charged yet.
· Normally, Steve Stenger would have been the “big fish” caught in the investigation. Perhaps not in this context.
· Stenger plead “not guilty.” Some think that’s in advance of a plea agreement. Could he and others (Rallo, and JC) be helping investigators who are looking to roll up other shady businessmen?
· The Post-Dispatch reported previously on very wide-ranging subpoenas. See it here. One veteran observer thinks it “provides the roadmap of sleepless nights ahead for a diverse group of influencers and players.”
· And with news continuing to drip out about St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner battling federal investigators, there’s a certain wariness that we could see a similar scenario play out again in one form or another.
One lobbyist hoped that former Rep. Jay Barnes and Rep. Gina Mitten and others from the “Greitens Investigation Committee” could reunite to do a role-playing reading of some of the transcripts from the Stenger indictment.
Senate Rehashes Old Ground
The Senate took up Rep. Kathy Swan’s HB 225. This is Governor Mike Parson’s proposed Fast-Track grant.
The Senate version of this, SB 16, has been sitting in parliamentarian limbo for a few months after Sen. Gary Romine refused to lay it over when asked by the floor leader.
It had been filibustered at that time, and basically the same filibuster re-started yesterday with HB 225.
The Conservative Caucus wants to see some school choice legislation. Sen. Andrew Koenig attached ESA language to it and that set the stage for the debate.
They’re plainly offering to let Romine’s bill through – if he won’t hold up a bill they want – charter expansion or educational saving accounts. Sen. Bill Eigel was very straightforward on the floor, “Some of our issues have been stalled literally for years… if there is no compromise there will be no bill.”
Why Two Letters?
Why were there two resignation letters from DaRon McGee? One was posted at 6:45PM and then a second one at 7:55PM. It’s still a bit of a mystery, but one building denizens with a close view of the action says that “the first letter was delivered after the committee came back from recess and did not stop the committee from proceeding with publishing the report so [some] believe he delivered the second letter (resigning immediately) in hopes that it would get the committee to change course from publishing the report… [however that action] was seen as a continuation of a pattern [of what the report called ] ‘repeatedly delayed and obstructed these proceedings and impeded the resolution of this matter.’” So it didn’t help his cause at all.
Dems nominated Trish Gunby (see her website here) to run for House 99. This is the Jean Evans seat. Governor Mike Parson has called a special election for November. Dems also released a statement saying that “House District 99 is trending the wrong way for the Missouri GOP… HD99 is one of only eleven Republican-held state House districts where Hillary Clinton ran ahead of Obama's 2012 percentage, despite performing 6-points worse statewide. This suggests either that the district became more Democratic, that voters there were turned off by Trump, or both.”
Meanwhile Republicans selected Lee Ann Pitman as their nominee. One Republican describes Pitman as “relatable of a person as I have ever met.” She is married with two sons, has volunteered on Rep. Dan Shaul’s campaigns and her oldest son worked for HRCC last summer.
The Unelecteds Club
Sam Page has taken over as the county executive of the largest county in the state. He wasn’t elected to that position.
Neither was Governor Mike Parson, or Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, or Attorney General Eric Schmitt, or State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick…
The upcoming 2020 cycles will put all these unelected incumbents on the ballot. It will be interesting to see how they fare. For the two (Parson and Page) who took over after a scandal, there’s an immediate sense of relief and a honeymoon period. But that will fade as opposition campaigns rev up.
· The mighty Jason Rosenbaum tweets to look for a special election to fill Page’s seat on the County Council. One name floated is Kelli Dunaway. She’s a Democrat who ran in – and then dropped out of – the primary in CD2 to take on Congresswoman Ann Wagner.
· Post Dispatch reports on Page’s staffing decisions. Former St. Louis City counselor Winston Calvert will be his new chief of staff.
· And they nab this quote about Page’s stance on the proposed city-county merger: “I do not believe that a process that does not leave this decision to St. Louis and St. Louis County voters is the right process. … I don’t think it will end well.”
As of the close of business April 29, one day before the end of the month, revenues were ahead of last year by $226.5 million, or up 2.93%. It was one helluva month for the state coffers, eviscerating the largest and darkest cloud looming over the legislative session.
Worriers are gonna worry of course. And they still worry that 2018’s June was huge and comparisons will be difficult. But there’s no way not to have a brighter outlook today than we did a month ago.
eMailbag on Unions and Gig Economy
FYI on Uber--unions already have organized units of Uber and Lyft drivers under various structures in New York, LA, Seattle, DC and other cities, have successfully had brief strikes and won some agreements with the companies on driver issues. They've also won some suits on the classification of Uber and Lyft drivers as employees rather than contractors in a few states. Whether those movements come to Missouri or not it shows "gig" type workforce structures are not without risk for companies and are already slowing down employer interest in "gig" work arrangements.
Uniting Missouri PAC - $15,120 from Branson Aircraft LLC.
MO Cable PAC - $6,402 from Mediacom Communications Corp.
Paul Anthony Agathen added Missouri Landowners Alliance.
Jay Hahn added Standard Wellness Company LLC.
Thomas Robbins and Steven Tilley added Northpark Partners, LLC.
Happy birthdays to Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, and Bubs Hohulin.
To Michael Moorefield, and wife Mackenzie, who are infanticipating an autumn baby.