Republican governor candidate Eric Greitens has taken every opportunity to blast members of the General Assembly as corrupt, and the state auditor’s report about a fund used feed Senate staffers who work late nights added fuel to the fire this week.
“This is exactly the type of cronyism and corruption that Eric will eliminate as governor,” Greitens’ campaign manager, Austin Chambers, told the Kansas City Star.
But one Greitens supporter, looking to join the legislature this fall, pushed back against the corruption label.
“My senator is Eric Schmitt,” Mark Milton said on Sunday’s episode of This Week in Missouri Politics. “I do not think he is corrupt in any fashion.”
While many have criticized the lobbyist-funded account used to pay for meals of Senate staffers when they worked late nights during session, like the 40-hour filibuster this past year, Milton didn’t join the chorus.
However, the candidate opposing Rep. Deb Lavender, D-St. Louis, in the November general election did caution that the optics weren’t great.
“I do think the issue here is just the appearance of impropriety,” Milton said. “I think for voters, all they hear is, ‘Lobbyists are buying meals for senators and their staffers.’ They’re not seeing the details that it was only $6,500 over three years and they don’t maybe appreciate the context which is that these staffers are working late into the night.”
He also said he understood how a voter might worry about potential impropriety. But Milton said he didn’t think it meant the Senate is a corrupt body.
“I do think it was sort of an unforced error by the Senate to have this account out there and I think that from a voter’s standpoint, it could erode some confidence,” Milton said. “But I don’t think it’s fair to say that’s a corrupt system.”
While voters may not approve of the fund, they do know where the money came from. Despite clearance from the Missouri Ethics Commission this week, voters can’t say the same about some of the campaign contributions Greitens and his Democratic opponent Chris Koster have received from political action committees.
Watch more of the discussion at twmp.tv.