This Week in the Governor’s Office: Week of Feb. 13
New curators, contentious relationship with the press, and a bill to disclose inaugural donors
If House Democrats have their way, Gov. Eric Greitens may inadvertently set a precedent for future Missouri governors regarding expenditures for the inaugural. Greitens has not released a definitive list of who raised money for his inaugural proceedings and celebrations, nor has his administration said how much the event cost.
Rep. Mark Ellebracht, D-Kansas City, filed a bill this week that would require future governors disclose the donors and the amount of money they donated for inaugural festivities. Ellebrecht and other House Democrats said it would help promote the idea of transparency and ethical governance Greitens has stated he wants to bring to Jefferson City.
“Corporations didn’t give the governor money just to be nice; they expect something in return,” Ellebracht said. “Missourians are entitled to know exactly who paid for the governor’s party and how much money they kicked in. Until then, it’s hard to take this governor’s anti-corruption talk very seriously.”
Greitens also made some appointments and key hires this week. He tapped his campaign’s financial advisor and Springfield-based Morgan Stanley executive Jeff Layman, owner of Capital Sands Proppant LLC Jamie Farmer and attorney and former deputy director for the Dept. of Revnue Darryl Chatman to the University of Missouri Board of Curators.
He also named PricewaterhouseCoopers’ partner Joel Walters to head the Department of Revenue. Walters worked with non-American businesses moving to the United States understand the country’s tax scheme.
“I’m looking forward to working with the Governor to create jobs and ensure that Missouri’s tax system encourages businesses to come and invest in our people,” Walters said in a statement. “I’ve seen the damage that over burdensome taxes can have on job creation, and seen the global competition for jobs firsthand. We’re going to take those lessons and put them to work fighting for the people of Missouri to win jobs back to this state.”
Greitens also told the Pathway, a publication of the Missouri Baptist Convention, that he would be meeting with President Donald Trump sometime next week. He said he may discuss efforts to defund Planned Parenthood with the president, while also promising Missouri Baptists he would work to repeal a new St. Louis ordinance that added abortion and the use of contraception to the city’s non-discrimination statute. Opponents say it could curtail the religious liberties of those who oppose abortion.
The Governor’s strained relationship with the Capitol press corps continued Tuesday as he took two opportunities to attack its members. Greitens spoke at the NAACP Legislative Day just a day after the Missouri NAACP’s president, Rod Chapel, had his microphone cut off in a committee hearing by Rep. Bill Lant. Greitens spoke glowingly about the NAACP’s purpose and mission for a few minutes, and then talked about his work with Sen. Jamilah Nasheed in combatting recidivism – and how the press had not covered those kinds of stories or any of the other “positive” stories coming out of his administration.
After the meeting, he did not take questions from the press corps.
The next day, he held a Facebook livestream to answer questions from commentators.
About 15 minutes into the stream, Greitens said “A lot of you asked me, why does the media bash you so much or why did they write these editorials…” His response: “I was sent here by the people of Missouri to fight for you, not to fight for the media. I was sent here to fight for you, and that means we’re going to take on a lot of tough battles, that means we’ll put an end to politics as usual. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. I’m used to a hard fight, we signed up for a hard fight, but we’re doing it because our mission is very clear: it’s more jobs and higher pay, safer streets and better schools for the people of Missouri.”
It’s unclear which comment Greitens was responding to, as none of the comments in the preliminary thread asked about his relationship with the media. Several members of the press corps, though not reporters from The Missouri Times, submitted questions via Facebook for the governor, though those went unanswered.