JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – House Democrats are calling out Republican megadonor David Humphreys for what they are describing as “attempts to bully and harass” his political opponents into silence.
In a press conference held at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City on Thursday afternoon, Democratic House leaders spoke to the media about the matter.
“Last week we, we got word that a PAC funded primarily by David Humphreys, the megadonor of the Republican Party and billionaire in Missouri, had just rolled over about a quarter of a million dollars from its PAC into the House Republican Campaign Committee,” Rep. Peter Merideth said, reminding everyone that Humphreys spent roughly $17 million in 2016 on campaigns to support Republican candidates and promote his agenda of bringing right-to-work, anti-labor measures and tort reform to Missouri. “We want to make sure that folks know that the other side is funded primarily by one person.”
Merideth said that to let people know, they sent out an email last week, which Humphreys’ “out-of-state attorneys” responded to this week with a cease-and-desist letter, which accuses the Democrats of defamation.
“For him to suggest that we are defaming his character by pointing out the truth of the amount of money he spent on Republican policies, I think, is absolutely his attempt to bully us and silence us and control political speech with his dollars,” Merideth said.
They said that Humphreys shouldn’t be allowed to silence them or threaten them with legal actions.
“That we are expected to lie down and not point that out to the public that is the height of hypocrisy,” Rep. Mark Ellebracht said. “We will not be bullied by out-of-state attorneys, we will not be silenced by threats of a lawsuit that has no standing. I invite him to try. Let him try.”
“Humphrey’s billionaire First Amendment rights are not any more important than anyone else’s,” Rep. Gina Mitten said, calling it an affront to the First Amendment rights of all Americans. “Donating nearly $20 million to politicians does not entitle him to a safe space…being a billionaire doesn’t mean you get a better break than anybody else.”
She noted that the letter read “confidential.”
“He doesn’t even want this letter to be exposed,” she said. “This is something that every Missourian needs to know about.”
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.