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Approval of UM Board of Curators picks stalls in Senate


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Approval of two appointees to the University of Missouri Board of Curators stalled in the Senate Thursday amid legislators’ concerns over the picks. 

Sources have told The Missouri Times as many as 20 senators on both sides of the aisle, including those on the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee, had concerns about losing David Steelman on the board and that his replacement’s nomination had gone upside down in committee. Steelman’s appointed replacement, Cape Girardeau-based business owner Keith Holloway, did not make it to the floor for consideration this week. Sen. Justin Brown voiced his concerns about Steelman’s replacement and pushed for him to retain his seat. 

“David Steelman has been instrumental in bringing about a number of important and exciting initiatives at Missouri S&T, and I believe it’s critically important that he remains a member of the MU Board of Curators as these programs go forward,” Brown said in a statement. “I strongly support him remaining in his position as long as he believes he can contribute, and I will do everything I can to see he’s allowed to continue the work he’s begun.”

Steelman is a former member of the General Assembly who served as minority floor leader in the House. He has served as a curator since his appointment in 2014. 

The Senate stalled on the nomination of Todd Graves, former head of the Missouri Republican Party and founding partner of law firm Graves Garrett LLC, on the floor for more than two hours Thursday. Graves would replace former legislator Phillip Snowden for the 6th congressional seat. The approval motion was ultimately withdrawn by Senate President Dave Schatz. 

Sens. Greg Razer and Paul Wieland held the floor for much of the debate, discussing the history of the MU System with various senators representing the campuses, including Sens. Caleb Rowden, Brian Williams, and Jason Bean. Senators praised the system and its accomplishments, touting the contributions of Choi and football coach Eliah Drinkwitz. 

Graves’ appointment was approved in the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee Wednesday by a vote of 7-4 after a round of questioning from the committee. Wieland, who serves on the committee, said he requested an additional week of deliberation on Graves’ appointment after inquiring about past controversies, including lawsuits and his removal from his position as a U.S. attorney, but the committee approved the appointment in favor of debate on the floor.

Gov. Mike Parson named the appointments last month. The Senate is expected to further consider the appointments in the future. Steelman and Snowden will continue serving expired terms in their positions until appointments are confirmed. 

“It’s up the Senate,” Parson told reporters Thursday. “[Graves is] the guy we put out there, and we’re going to let the process happen. … He’s the guy we picked, and we’re gonna stay with him.”