There are some in the Missouri State Capitol who were clearly born here. The Capitol would not be the same without them – their presence is always felt or missed. Whether a group or a longtime lobbyist or a multifaceted firm or an administrator, these Institutions are the exact parties you want to pick the brains of – and pray they like you.
Betsy AuBuchon by Judge Patricia Breckenridge
Growing up in the small, southern Missouri town of Alton, Betsy AuBuchon told a high school friend she was thinking about becoming a lawyer. He responded, “Betsy, you are the smartest person I know but no one from Oregon County has ever become a lawyer.” Betsy proved him wrong. She not only became a lawyer but, at age 41, went on to become the first female Clerk of the Supreme Court, the administrative head of Missouri’s judicial branch of government.
As a leader of Missouri courts, Betsy exemplifies the highest personal and professional ethics to which we all aspire. She is passionate that our courts exist to serve Missouri citizens and that treating all who come to our courts respectfully and fairly under the law is paramount to ensuring their faith and confidence in our courts. Betsy acts with courage when it is necessary to take unpopular positions required by the law and uses her sense of humor to defuse the tensions inherent in dealing with difficult issues. She developed her strength of will and character early in her life when, at age 10, a serious car wreck left her in a full body cast for nearly a year.
Betsy is universally respected by those in all three branches of our government because of her honesty, integrity, and ability to get things done. Her effectiveness is enhanced through her relationships. She knows everyone, having far more friends than acquaintances. But whether a friend or acquaintance, if Betsy AuBuchon gives you advice, pay attention. Her candor might be uncomfortable to hear but if you follow her advice you will be better for it.
Cozad & Company by Sam Licklider
I’m weak; I admit it. When Rachael contacted me and asked me to do a brief piece for the Missouri Times, on why Cozad Company was someone to know in the Capitol, “just 400 words or so” she said, I foolishly said yes. It really would take several thousand words, and I’ve not done an essay that long since college. Well, here goes!
Cozad Company with Woody Cozad and Ward Cook represents a range of clients from Praxair to Powell Gardens, including the MRACJ, I had to ask about that one.
Woody has been interested in politics, elections, and policy, as long as I’ve known him, I remember discussing the first Eisenhower election with him, on the playground at Hale Cook Elementary School in Kansas City, so that’s a very long time. It shows in his public service; Chairman of the Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority; Chairman of the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission; member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators and Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.
The latter, Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, was foreordained. Look on, roughly page 70 of the 1965 Blue Jay you’ll find Woody kneeling, looking very serious for the photographer as the President of the Westminster Young Republicans. For those interested in what kind of school Westminster was in those days, there were 26 Young Republicans and 13 Young Democrats. The Young Democrats had one future member of the Missouri House; the Young Republicans had two future lobbyists.
Fascinating to talk to with a broad knowledge of both history and current events, it’s just fun to start a conversation with him and see where it leads.
He gets very focused on issues that he cares about; transportation comes to mind as does tax policy and education.
Ward, on the other hand, I’ve not known nearly as long, though, in an early conversation, we discovered that his mother and I were at Shawnee Mission East High School at the same time, I entered in fall, ‘59, and she was in the class of 1960.
Ward will fool you, under that quiet, somewhat self-effacing exterior, there’s an accomplished political operative that spent years in DC both in fundraising and event organizing including a stint with the Republican Leadership Council as well as five U.S. Senate and congressional campaigns.
Both work diligently for their clients but remain, gentlemen, while doing so. Good people to know.
Jennifer Durham by Ted Powers
Jennifer Durham has been a fixture with John Britton Associates and the Britton Group for many years, and needs no introduction to those who have been in the capitol for any length of time. Her insights into the legislative process, priorities and personalities are amazing. She has represented a wide and impressive range of clients and organizations that show her flexibility and breadth of knowledge. She adds a sense of humor to wrap up the whole package too. It is no accident that she prospered alongside the legendary John Britton.
As to the industry with which I am most familiar, her knowledge of the beer industry and all associated aspects is beyond impressive and lurches over into being somewhat scary. Quite amazing to have that range of information and knowledge filed away. She has had the misfortune to work with me starting back in 2008 when I became the Government Affairs contact in Missouri for Anheuser-Busch. Despite that, she is always willing and able to cheerfully give good and sage advice to the dork from corporate, even when he is slow on the uptake.
In short, Jennifer certainly doesn’t need my imprimatur to be in the list of top-100 since it is her impressive career that does the talking, but I am happy to be able to chime in and second the thought that she is someone to know in Missouri Politics and in the Capitol.
Kathi Harness by James Harris
I have known Kathi Harness for fifteen years and shared an office with her for ten. Her disciplined work ethic and her frank, straightforward way of doing business have never ceased to impress me.
Kathi consistently represents her clients in a professional manner, which she pairs well with her pleasant, positive attitude and upbeat sense of humor. Even with the most complex of issues, she knows every detail about the bills she is working, and she clearly and compellingly voices her clients’ position.
Kathi is a solid source of information for many lobbyists in the Capitol, myself included. May lobbyists over the years have benefitted from her willingness to lend her time and her knowledge when needed even though she may gain nothing from sharing it. She is strong, confident and not threatened by other competition–even helping train a number of fledgling lobbyists over the years, taking them under her wing and making sure they know what they need to be effective and grow in this field.
Kathi has earned the trust of committee chairs and members of leadership by being honest and direct, which makes her very effective for her clients. She has worked hard to earn a reputation as a lobbyist who can be relied on because she is dependable, provides accurate information, and she doesn’t play games.
Whenever I need an extra voice on an issue, I know I can trust Kathi. I am always comfortable recommending her to those needing an effective lobbyist.
Flotron McIntosh by Kit Crancer
While previously working as a staffer in the Senate, it was always fascinating to watch the different styles offered by longtime and new lobbyists alike. A decade later, one approach that I’ve tried to mimic in my own career in government affairs is what’s displayed daily in the capitol halls by the lobbyists at Flotron McIntosh. The firm prides itself on being a “resource” and employing knowledge-based lobbyists. They care about what individual legislators care about, and they do the hard work to earn trust by providing guidance and dedicating themselves to the development of sound public policy.
The firm’s principals, Franc Flotron and Richard McIntosh, are pillars in the capitol and have served as mentors and partners for many in public policy, including me. Countless times over the years I have cornered Franc, a former state senator, to ask about the genesis of the state’s original charter school law, which he had largely written. Furthermore, there are few that know more about the state’s appropriations and procurement process than Richard McIntosh. The firm’s more recent addition of former senator Bill Stouffer only reinforces the group’s commitment to promoting serious public policy makers as the foundation of their business.
The firm’s vice presidents, Zach Brunnert and David McCracken, are simply never not working on building relationships and are continually planting the seeds for sustained success. Given that their firm is widely regarded as the first bi-partisan lobby shop in Jefferson City, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they have friends in all corners of the building and successfully represent clients in nearly every sector of business interests. Furthermore, they are never ones to shy away from a worthy fight, and they live for the tough issues.
Institutional knowledge is a powerful thing in an era of term limits, and Flotron McIntosh couple knowledge and experience with hard work to provide remarkable results on behalf of their clients. There are few lobbyists, in any state, which match the efficacy of their approach.
Missouri AFL CIO by Sarah Wood Martin
The Missouri AFL-CIO has been active in Missouri’s Capitol for over 100 years, making it one of the Legislature’s oldest influencers. The organization serves 56 Missouri unions. The traditional union issues are a priority but often overlooked is the organization’s efforts to improve all Missourian’s lives. You do not have to be a member of a union to benefit from the AFL’s work on issues around worker’s compensation, access to Missouri’s courts, and a living wage for all just to name a few. Working women are well represented with the organization’s fight for paid leave. Last year the AFL-CIO joined like-minded organizations to beat back mandatory arbitration for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The AFL’s team balances these efforts while remaining strong outside of the Capitol. The Missouri AFL-CIO is the only affiliate to beat Right to Work at the ballot box not once but twice, both in 1978 and 2018. The latest referendum sent a message that Missourians value all workers’ right to collectively bargain. This is a message that cannot be ignored back home for most legislators.
Caleb Jones & Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives by David Steelman
It is hard to imagine any organization or team in the Missouri Capitol that is more important to know than the team Caleb Jones has put together at the Missouri Electrical Cooperatives Association. Their success starts with the organization, which has built a grassroots network that understands Missourians and the issues we care about. Because of that constant attention to its membership, the Rural Electric Co-ops have direct access to more influencers, activists, and voters in the heart of the majority than any other organization I can think of.
In addition their CEO, Caleb Jones is not only a skilled leader, but as a former legislator and staffer at both the state and federal level, he not only knows how to put a team together, but he also has firsthand knowledge of the people and personalities in the Capitol. He knows exactly what it takes to make the Missouri Electrical Cooperatives successful, and he is backed by an experienced team. Zach Pollock is a former Nixon staff member, while Rebecca Knipp was on the staff of Senator Roy Blunt. Together they provide balanced insights and are a constant presence in hearing rooms or in the hallways visiting one on one with legislators. They are all supported by a general counsel, Brent Stewart, who was staff director of the Public Service Commission and has decades of knowledge of Missouri’s power infrastructure.
But above all the key to their success in the Missouri Capitol is they have a firm grasp on their mission: to provide members with safe, reliable and affordable electricity and they represent their members in that mission extremely well.
Missouri Farm Bureau by Estil Fretwell
In the first public opinion survey that I recall of its kind about four decades ago, Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB) was identified as one of the “state’s most effective organizations in positively influencing public opinion,” an accolade supported by more contemporary surveys. MOFB is the oldest state Farm Bureau in the nation. Its history, member-involvement and statewide composition all contribute to the major influence it has today in Missouri politics.
“Grassroots” is a common term associated with MOFB for good reason. All 114 Missouri counties have active county Farm Bureau organizations with locally elected officers. Among their responsibilities is the origination of MOFB policy positions. From the county to the state to the national level, this issue development process makes for a representative and effective lobbying presence at the State and U.S. Capitols.
MOFB created a political action committee in the 1970s, leading the way nationally in supporting candidates and ballot initiatives relating to agriculture and other rural issues. Again, the grassroots involvement of county leaders in endorsing candidates and engaging in their subsequent campaigns has helped build MOFB’s political influence and a reputable track record.
The MOFB leadership and board are elected by its membership and are engaged with many other statewide organizations and issues. Blake Hurst, its current president and a farmer, is nationally revered as an articulate and well-published spokesman on agriculture and related issues. MOFB’s state and national lobbyists are knowledgeable and respected by policymakers.
Numerous individuals involved in MOFB have also become leaders in local, state and federal positions such as Congressman Sam Graves, DOA Director Chris Chinn, and FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce, all three who served as chair of the state or national Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.
A look at some of the major issues MOFB has championed begins in the 1910s with the promotion of agricultural education and University Extension, followed shortly thereafter by the successful “lift Missouri out of the mud” highway bond issue in the 1920s. Other issues involving MOFB include the creation of the School Foundation Program, achieving tax limitation reform, increasing state parks and soil conservation funding, protecting landowner rights, reforming eminent domain authority, increasing agricultural markets and many more.
In joining MOFB, Missourians know they have a legislative voice speaking out for them at all government levels. At 130,856 members strong, Missouri Farm Bureau is truly the state’s largest and most influential agricultural organization.
Missouri Realtors Association by David Barklage
The best word to describe Missouri REALTORS® is a powerhouse. The National Association of REALTORS® is America’s largest trade association and one of the most impactful organizations in the country. Of their 54 state and territory associations, Missouri REALTORS® is one of their strongest membership groups. With over 20,000 members in every corner of the state. Missouri REALTORS® aren’t just active within the organization – they’re also networked into every chamber, rotary club, and civic organization in the communities where they live and work.
They have strong leadership throughout their membership and their dedicated, professional staff. CEO John Sebree has extensive government relations experience and worked for NAR in Washington, DC for over a decade. Sam Licklider has served as their Chief Lobbyist for 50 years and is considered among some as a dean of his profession. There are no doors San cannot open in state government.
Missouri REALTORS® have been served well by their elected leadership, including several who have gone on to serve as NAR President, an extremely rare honor. Those include R. Layne Morrill, Richard Mendenhall, and most recently Elizabeth Mendenhall in 2018. Elizabeth was an extraordinary innovator, not only as Missouri REALTORS® President but also during her time on the national level. She is a young leader who will continue to be a powerful advocate for REALTORS® in Missouri and across the country.
Missouri REALTORS® proved their muscle through successfully passing two state constitutional amendments, one of which passed by 83.7 percent to ban transfer taxes. The other overwhelming passed amendment placed a prohibition on sales taxes on services. Both campaigns were shepherded by Larry Keating, a highly respected member within NAR and a former Missouri REALTORS® President.
With all their assets, expect Missouri REALTORS® to stay at the top of the list of the most powerful groups in the state.
Wiles & Associates by Mark Habbas
Richard Wiles and Sam Wiles of Wiles & Associates are two people everyone in the building should know. Not only are they serious lobbyists, but they’re also amazing men who can make anyone smile. It seems like Richard has been in the building since it was built, representing and maintaining impressive clients. Sam has risen in his father’s shadow, bringing in more relationships, clients, and a new look at things.
Wiles & Associates is a double threat of old school and new school. The Wiles men have a great reputation for tirelessly advocating for their clients and building strong relationships. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t smile when they talk about either Richard or Sam.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.