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Gatschenberger’s letter to majority members requests policy change for staffers

ST. LOUIS — Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, R-St. Charles, sent a letter earlier this week to members of the majority caucus expressing concerns and requesting policy changes regarding legislative staff members who also work on campaigns run against other members of the caucus.

Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger
Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger

The issue arguably is a little personal for Gatchenberger. Tom Smith, a former campaign staffer of his, is now helping with an opponent’s, Bob Onder’s, campaign — all while being the Chief of Staff for House Speaker Tim Jones.

“How can members of the caucus not feel threatened when a staff person paid by your opponent is working in a Leadership office that has so much power over the success or failure of your legislation?” Gatschenberger wrote in the letter.

With almost every caucus member in St. Louis this weekend for their annual summer meeting, the discussion about the letter has caused a significant amount of discussion between members, though leadership doesn’t have a lot to add.

Speaker Jones said in the midst of preparing for caucus and veto session, those areas are what he’s focused on right now more so than Gatschenberger’s request.

“I’m not focused on the issues that are entangled in a Senate race that isn’t even in the district I live in for 2014,” Jones said.

He added that he “doesn’t begrudge anyone” for working as many jobs as they can to support their family, saying that doing so would be a hard thing for him to do

Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California, who is a candidate for House Speaker, didn’t speak specifically on Gatschenberger’s letter but told The Missouri Times that he looks forward to discussing the policy-relate issues the caucus faces as a group.

When push comes to shove, Gatschenberger said it comes down to another form of bullying.

“Everyone I’ve talked to at caucus have come up to me and have said they support it,” he said. “I think it’s being well read. But, you know, I hope I still have my chairmanship next session.”