Texts from the Trail: Personal feelings overheating

  

It’s the time of year everyone gathers at parties to share all of our dreams for world peace and speaks of perpetual hope.

However, in the Missouri political world it’s been the time of year when the personal ill feelings of people in and around Missouri politics have begun to spill over into the professional world.

It started around the time for giving thanks last month when Eric Greitens was livid about a PAC with a website reminding Republican voters that Greitens is a recent convert to the movement. Greitens blamed John Brunner and emphatically told him so in a call recorded by Brunner.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 8.42.04 PMGreitens was still pointing the finger at Brunner when this Sunday he told Hancock and Kelley that Brunner “still hasn’t taken responsibility,” and when they did finally have the meeting, Greitens was demanding.

Of course, if Brunner is coordinating with a federal PAC it would likely be violating federal election laws, so chances are he won’t be taking credit for the PAC anytime soon. Many see it as a personal oddity that Greitens would want to meet with someone he felt was “a weasel” in the first place.

After Greitens got personal, the debate over whether or not the state will be part of financing a new football stadium in St. Louis took a bizarre turn when an alderwoman made the allegation that her boyfriend, who is a candidate to replace state Rep. Mike Colona, was offered a bribe if she would support the city’s portion of funding the stadium.

Alderwoman Megan-Ellyia Green has been a loud opponent of the project, but she seems to have let her passionate opposition turn personal with the allegation, which was quickly brushed aside by senior figures in city government and law enforcement. While it would have been good for the opposition for supporters to be caught attempting to offer bribes, her cause was likely set back by the spectacle.

The takeaway may be if you’re going to have the ambition to allege corruption publicly, have the integrity to name names publicly.

Tony Messenger is never one who is shy about naming names, and he is especially fond of naming his favorite target, former Speaker-turned-lobbyist Steve Tilley. Last week’s editorial seemed to border on personal when he suggested that the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigate Tilley in connection with Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s announcement that his campaign funds were misspent.

In this instance, Messenger’s constant and straightforward calls for new laws regulating campaign finance, lobbying rules, and gifts given to legislators seemed to get mixed in with his dislike – to put it mildly – for Tilley.

First, it alleged that Tilley was Kinder’s chief rival for the lt. governor post, which is just not true. Kinder was running for governor at the time and Tilley was running for lt. governor in 2011. They had spoken and were longtime allies and friends from the same part of the state.

Kinder had endured a series of stories that led him to feel he could not be elected governor. It was after Tilley announced he wasn’t running that Kinder announced he would run again for lt. governor. It’s not true that they were rivals for the job. Its outlined pretty well here by Jake Wagman in the Post-Dispatch.

It was also alleged that Tilley’s sister’s company, Campaign Concepts, did the reporting for the Kinder campaign that is the root of the investigation. However, that is also not true. The last check written to Logan Thompson that was included in the original reports, but left off of the amended reports was dated on January 2, 2014. Campaign Concepts began working for Kinder on April 1, 2014.

Lastly, it was alleged that Tilley was donating funds from his campaign account to political consulting clients to somehow launder the money. I have no idea if that was the case or not, but if it was Tilley is a moron.

A quick look at the contributions from Friends of Tilley show that under a tenth of the political contributions from Friends of Tilley were to clients of his political consulting firm. Under Missouri law, candidates can spend left over funds on virtually anything they want, so if he was laundering money through publicly recorded committees with a grand scheme to get back under 10% of it pre-tax, he would be an idiot.

However, Messenger deserves credit for relentlessly writing on these issues, and with two major political figures resigning in 2015, it looks like the mountain has come to him in 2016 when there will very likely be a bill to tighten campaign finance and lobbying regulations.

Rep. Caleb Rowden has the ethics bills to watch. He is highly thought of in his caucus and is running in the most competitive senate race in the state. Seems like a ban on lobbyist gifts, a one-year cooling off period for legislators elected in 2016 entering lobbying, and some regulations on former politician’s campaign funds.

This may come as a surprise to some, but the interest group who will be the happiest about every one of those elements in the bill will be…registered lobbyists.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 6.12.50 PMA little known secret is they would also be the group who would most benefit from reinstating contribution limits.

The week on the campaign trail was pretty quiet with holiday parties taking up the bulk of the schedules of the candidates. Candidate for Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was the guest on This Week in Missouri Politics for an interesting discussion on his favorite topic, voter ID.

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Greitens for Missouri         FTL Capital St. Louis, MO                              $50,000

Friends of Kevin Elmer      Deloris Petty Chesterfield, MO                    $50,000

Greitens for Missouri         Jerald Kent St. Louis, MO                             $50,000

Koster for Missouri             Christopher Boies New York, NY                 $25,000

Greitens for Missouri          Julian Robertson New York, NY                   $25,000

Greitens for Missouri          Anthony Pritzker Los Angeles, CA               $25,000

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Koster for Missouri                 Robert Clark St. Louis, MO                        $6,600

Greitens for Missouri             Michael Steinhardt New York, NY             $5,000

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Contreras for Treasurer         Kenneth McClain Independence, MO       $5,000

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