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Silvey talks Senate dysfunction, ethics and Kansas City sports


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sen. Ryan Silvey has been a polarizing figure in the Missouri Senate for more than four years, and over the past few days, his comments on a variety of issues have served only as more fuel to an already hot fire.

The Senate has literally stalled for the past two days, which Silvey says the senators were surprised when leadership motioned to adjourned Tuesday morning. He says that he thinks part of it was because of a push for ethics reform and some proposed rule changes taking place in the chamber this week.

The #TWMPLive is a series of live interviews from the Capitol to complement statewide political tv show, This Week in Missouri Politics (TWMP). The interviews are broadcast on TWMP’s Facebook page.

“There are some changes in the Senate that we would like to see,” Silvey told Missouri Times publisher and TWMP host Scott Faughn during the Facebook Live video on Tuesday afternoon.

Silvey says there was a rule change proposed earlier in the week, and that it could have been discussed during resolutions but was not.

Silvey says that proposed rule change would “decentralize some of the power that the Pro Ten has seized for himself.”

“I think clearly that would be an opportunity for the Senate to function under a different rule structure and allow the current leadership to remain in place,” Silvey said. “If that’s not acceptable to them, then they’re probably going to continue in dysfunction until leadership either changes or terms out.”

But Silvey touched on more than a few subjects during that interview. Here’s a breakdown of some of the topics:

On Ethics

Silvey pointed to the issue of dark money, saying that it has been a focal point for a bipartisan group of senators, numbering somewhere between 16 and 19, who came together to push for ethics reform during the final weeks of the legislative session.

“If you’re going to spend money to influence politics, we should know who you are,” Silvey said. “For some reason, we have this whole argument going on that they should be able to spend as much money as they want and nobody should know who they are. But with the First Amendment guaranteeing your right to do so, you don’t need the anonymity. The only reason you would need the anonymity is so that no one could hold you accountable.”

Gov. Eric Greitens pushed for ethics reform on the campaign trail, and the Senate has more than a few options when it comes to legislation on the matter. Sen. Mike Kehoe’s bill is on the calendar, as is Rep. Justin Alferman’s bill, which was passed by the House back in January. Sen. Rob Schaaf has pushed for legislation on dark money, and his bill, SB 73, received a hearing in the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions, and Ethics Committee on Tuesday morning.

Schaaf gets hearing on ‘dark money’ legislation

On Ron Richard

Silvey wrote a letter to President Pro Tem Ron Richard on Tuesday, sarcastically thanking him for leaving him off of the budget conference committees. You can read more on that here:

Silvey ‘thanks’ Richard for leaving him off budget conference committee

When asked about the letter, Silvey said that the decisions that had come out of the Pro Tem’s office had been “questionable at best” on a number of occasions, and said that was why the Senate had the dysfunction that they had today.

Faughn then asked Silvey about the Kansas City Star’s conclusion that Richard should step aside, to which he replied that he wouldn’t ask Sen. Richard to step aside for corruption, but rather ineptitude.

On his role next session

“I think it depends on what kind of Senate we come back to,” Silvey said. “The Senate was designed to be a body of equals.”

Silvey said that he had hoped to be the Senate appropriations chair, and said it was disappointing to him, but not shocking.

He went on to say that the President Pro Tem told him that he wasn’t going to be the appropriations chair because of the way he had voted a certain way on right-to-work.

“Of course it’s disappointing that we still have that in politics today,” Silvey said.

Will the budget pass?

“None of us have ever intended to obstruct the budget,” Silvey said.

Silvey was one of the senators who voted to fully fund the education foundation formula, but the conference committees have yet to actually sit down in the House Lounge and meet.

“I think the House is in a much stronger position going into conference,” Silvey said. “I would think we would get something done, but we have to get done by Friday.”

On the Governor

Gov. Eric Greitens was slapped with a fine by the Missouri Ethics Commission late last Friday.

“It certainly got attention because it’s the governor,” Silvey said. “But it sounds like they’ve got it worked out, and we’ll see what happens.”

Silvey said that some of the senators have grown tired of hearing the words “corrupt, career politicians,” but says we’ll have to wait and see whether this changes the dialogue.

On the Royals

“As much as it pains me to say it, fire sale by the All-Star game,” he said. “We have several contracts in their final year. I think they don’t fire sale everybody… you don’t get all of them back, but some of them. You still have a decent start.”

On the Chiefs

Silvey says it was an interesting draft, with a lot of excitement about the newly drafted quarterback Patrick Mahomes II. When asked how many games he might play, Silvey said he only thought a few at the most.

“When you look at Andy Reid and our general manager, they were together in Green Bay when they brought in Brett Favre,” Silvey said. “So I think you’re going to look at that same kind of runway, with Alex Smith teaching Mahomes.”