ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Republican Party is questioning a change in a Thursday editorial from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch regarding “absentee-vote ballot abuse.”
Upon publishing, the editorial called out Secretary of State Jason Kander for failing to address the issue of possible of absentee ballot fraud the Franks/Hubbard primary. Franks was ahead in the polls until absentee ballots were counted, which narrowly put incumbent Penny Hubbard over to win potential re-election.
Shortly after online publication of the editorial, the wording changed from “Jason Kander” to “election officials” to include all election officials, which the publication does not contest.
“We were not happy with delays either at the local or state level with making sure this matter was promptly and thoroughly investigated, but it was unfair to single out the secretary of state for blame at the top of the editorial,” said editorial page editor Tod Robberson. “So we changed the wording to include local election officials as well.”
The original version, screencapped to the right, was touted Friday by the MRP as “assistance by some in the Missouri media to cover up his most recent ballot blunder involving absentee ballots.”
“The wild false assertion by Jason Kander and his campaign that Republicans fabricated a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial shows a campaign that is out of its depth and out of its league,” said Rich Chrismer, communications advisor to the MRP. “Jason Kander has been involved in a series of ballot blunders including the one exposed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before someone attempted to cover up his mess. This episode shows how far some in the media will go to give cover to Jason Kander including his lies about being a ‘fifth-generation Missourian,’ his family lobbying ties, his left-wing record in the state legislature and his embarrassing ballot blunders as Secretary of State. Jason Kander apparently has some friends in the media who will do anything to suppress the truth about his record, which means we will need to work even harder to ensure that Missourians get the facts and a full accounting of the lies, false assertions and ridiculous claims that Kander is telling Missouri families and the media.”
The Party’s claim to the change is backed up by an As-it-happens “Jason Kander” Google Alert, a news tool used by many communications and journalism professionals to track select subjects, such as a candidate or issue.
Chrismer quickly took to Twitter after the change, which was responded to by Chris Hayden, Kander communications director.
— Rich Chrismer (@RichChrismer) August 18, 2016
— Chris Hayden (@cmhayden10) August 18, 2016
However, the Post-Dispatch said the change was to paint a fairer picture of the overall situation.
“The editorial as originally written appeared to put the blame on the secretary of state’s office when, in fact, there was little more the office could have done than what it did, which is pass the matter to the U.S. Attorney and Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce’s office for follow up,” said Robberson. “Our main concern is with repeated delays by the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, which had long known about discrepancies with absentee ballots in the Hubbard family’s zone of influence and declined to do anything about it.”
Chrismer came back Friday morning, continuing to criticize the editorial board for the change, after the MRP published their blog post about the editorial change.
— Rich Chrismer (@RichChrismer) August 19, 2016
Secretary Kander is the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in a race against incumbent U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.
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.