JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Springfield News-Leader reported Thursday morning that A New Missouri, Inc., a dark money nonprofit designed to further Gov. Eric Greitens agenda, would release more social media advertisements directed at senators, specifically for standing in the way of a blue alert measure meant to support law enforcement.
A New Missouri has come under scrutiny because of its prior attack on Sen. Rob Schaaf, who filibustered about managed care expansion while a bill establishing a Blue Alert system in Missouri was on the Senate calendar. The Blue Alert bill would create a system to warn citizens via text message when a police officer is wounded. Greitens has made it a major priority of his agenda. However, law enforcement groups haven’t been as outspoken about the bill.
The advertisements reportedly accuse a new crop of senators of stalling progress on Blue Alert. Yet among those senators listed is Sen. Doug Libla, who has a nearly 40-year history of supporting law enforcement.
Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, was a charter member of the Missouri Association of State Troopers Emergency Relief Society (MASTERS) which exists to help the families of officers killed in the line of duty. The organization helps provide emotional support in a time of grief, as well as helping out with short and long-term financial needs, from cash on hand and funeral expenses to mortgage payments and college funding.
“Our deal is to help them stay financially stable, get the kids through college, and be of assistance anywhere they might need help,” Libla said, adding that 21 families had received help from MASTERS since its inception in 1979.
Although the advertisements have not yet been released by New Missouri, the photos obtained by the News-Leader are described as having a heavy insinuation that Libla and the other senators do not support law enforcement.
Poplar Bluff Police Chief Danny Whitley vouched for Libla’s commitment to law enforcement because of his deep connection to the MASTERS program.
“Obviously, if you support that, you’re a strong supporter of law enforcement,” Whitley said.
On top of all of that, Libla sponsored SB 46, which itself creates the Blue Alert system and provides that people who commit crimes against first responders cannot receive bail.
However, the senator has criticized New Missouri in the past, and Thursday, he called their tactics against Schaaf “vile, unsubstantiated ‘rookie-ness.’”
“If, in fact, somebody attacks me… I would think that would be an awfully ridiculous move,” he said.
The other senators named as targets of New Missouri by the News Leader were Sens. Bob Dixon, Jason Holsman, Gary Romine, and Ryan Silvey.
Austin Chambers, who works with A New Missouri Inc. and serves as a political advisor to Greitens, did not immediately return requests for comment. Both Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard and Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe declined to comment about the situation.
But Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Poplar Bluff, did offer a comment on the possible attack against the senator that lives in his district saying the GOP needed to follow Reagan’s 11th commandment.
“Republicans should not publicly attack fellow Republicans,” he said. “They can fight and slug it out in private meetings and caucus.”