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The 100+ List – part three

In alphabetical order, The Missouri Times collected a list of more than 100 people in the world of politics and political media that you need to know if you don’t already. The list doesn’t include legislators, but rather their staff and the governmental relations personnel and consultants that affect the outcomes of the legislator’s actions. Follow them on Twitter, familiarize yourself with their work and keep an eye out, because these people are not going anywhere. This list appeared in the Aug. 1 issue of The Missouri Times. If you have any questions or comments about the list, email Scott Faughn at

A few people from each category will be posted each day. Keep an eye out.

In case you missed it, here is:

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Governmental Relations

Brian SchmidtSchmidt
Owner, Missouri Wonk
Twitter: @missouriwonk

If you ever wanted to know anything about tax credits, Schmidt is the one to turn to. His specialty service keeps his clients informed about tax credits. He is now taking on other lobbying clients with what appears to be a great deal of success.

Brent HemphillHemphill
Principal, Brent Hemphill & Associates

Hemphill knows Republican politics and legislative philosophy inside and out. His roots run back to the Webster campaign and working with the Attorney General’s office. His client roster includes several state associations, as well as several gaming interests. He also has a relationship with Pelopidas, a St. Louis advocacy group, and is always at the center of energy debates in the General Assembly. Hemphill has a growing firm and is certainly someone worth watching.

Carl BeardenBearden
Executive Director, United for Missouri
Twitter: @United4MO

Bearden is the former Chairman of the House Budget Committee. As a matter of fact, he was the first Republican Budget Chairman in decades. He lobbied after leaving the legislature and is now working in conservative advocacy. While advocating, he often combines his background in politics to lead some of the only attacks on the record of Gov. Jay Nixon. Bearden is now touring the state with the objective of connecting grassroots conservatives with what is happening in Jefferson City. Look for him to be a leading voice advocating the override of the tax cut veto.

Chris RoepeRoepe
Executive Director, Fair Energy Rate Action Fund
Twitter: @fairenergyrates

It’s possible that no one had a more successful session that Roepe did. As the head of FERAF, he worked to defeat three pieces of legislation by three different means. Electric ISRS never came up for a vote in either chamber, water ISRS was defeated on its third reading in the Senate and gas ISRS was vetoed by the governor. As one member of Senate leadership commented: “Roepe made his career this spring.”

Eric WilsonWIlson
Legislative Director, The Missouri Bar
Twitter: @ewmobar

When you are revising the entire Missouri criminal code, you have the chance to either fall on your face or really impress some people — Wilson has done the latter. One of the key issues during next session will be the criminal code revisions that began to be unveiled in 2012. Wilson will surely be at the center of that effort.

Franc FlotronFlotron
Principal, Flotron & McIntosh
Twitter: @fflotron

The former state senator has been one of the most successful term-limited legislators to enter the lobbying community. While his firm has become experts in DNR issues, Flotron has a wide array of clients and is one of the harder working lobbyists in the Capitol — always keeping legislators on their toes. The white earbuds he sports around the Capitol don’t hurt his standing with us, either.

Guy BlackBLack
Head Lobbyist, Bryan Cave

This former Republican operative turned top-level lobbyist knows everything about everyone in Jefferson City. He was one of the most successful lobbyists in the Capitol during this session and carries with him the support of one the largest law firms in the world. What’s more, nobody in Jefferson City can wear a vest quite like him.

Jessica HodgeHodge
Principal, Hodge Consulting
Twitter: @jhodge1105

Hodge has the contact information for almost everyone in Jefferson City. Her client portfolio includes clients ranging from healthcare to corporations and is still expanding. Her name increased in popularity this past session, and we’re sure that’s just a start.

John BrittonBritton
Principal, John Britton & Associates

A living legend, Britton has been working in Jefferson City for more than half of a century and was the longtime lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch. Britton is so highly respected in the building, the chain-smoking WWII veteran was designated by the legislature years ago as a “designated smoking area,” despite smoking being banned in the halls of the Capitol. Gravel voiced and equipped with more institutional memory than any other person in the building, Britton is someone everyone in Missouri state government should know. As one lawmaker stated, “John Britton jumped out of airplanes and got shot at for this country, he can smoke wherever he wants.” (Photograph copyright: Parker Eshelman)

Katie CasasCasas
State Director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri
Twitter: @katiecasas

Casas is arguably one of the most recognizable faces in the Capitol when it comes to public education. Casas played a key role in both education bills backed by House Speaker Tim Jones, and during the interim, has been one of the loudest voices in the state for demanding a legislative fix for the transfer issue involving Normandy and Riverview Gardens. Casas hasn’t always made friends working for stricter evaluations for educators and calling for an end to teacher tenure, but anyone making education policy would be wise to know her name and hear her thoughts.

Matt ForckMatt F
Governmental Relations Director, Ameren UE
Twitter: @safestrat

Forck, with his nickname of “Safety Ambassador” for his in-depth presentations on workplace safety, is well known throughout the state for his relationship with utilities, construction, mining and more. Forck consults on employee engagement, cultural alignment, safety awareness and more for his clients. With the recent legislative session chock full of issues where Ameren was a key player, Forck has made a splash throughout the Capitol for his expertise and personable demeanor.

Sam WilesWiles
Lobbyist, Richard Wiles & Associates

He is an up-and-coming second generation lobbyist who seems as though he was born to lobby. Although he is young, he is one of the go-to lobbyists when needed to work with several influential legislators. He is also one of the more personally popular people in the Capitol.

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James HarrisHarris
Principal, The J. Harris Company
Twitter: @jamesmnharris

He has been building his list of connections and cultivating his uncanny political sense before he was 20-years-old. He has worked with nearly every major player in the Republican party. Today, nearly all top Republicans work to establish a relationship with Harris and he is closely associated with State Auditor Schweich and House Speaker Tim Jones.

Jason GrillGrill
Principal, JGrill Media & Consulting
Twitter: @jasongrill

This former member of the House has a leading media and governmental relations firm in Kansas City while also continuing to practice law. He seems to never sleep with all of the hats he wears, including hosting a radio show.

Megan ShackelfordShackelford
Strategist, The Kelley Group
Twitter: @megshak

Shackelford is a leader among the up-and-coming group of Democratic strategists who is able to have serious impact for her clients without leaving a large wake. Her work has helped take The Kelley Group to the next level and is one of the must-know people on this list.

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Dave DrebesDrebes
Owner, The Missouri Scout
Twitter: @moscout

The Missouri Scout is read by many in the Missouri political world every morning and is produced by one of the best-connected people in the state. Drebes is a St. Louis resident who splits time in the Capitol and is one of the nicest people on this list.

John CombestCombest
Twitter: @johncombest

Since 2001, Combest has helped Missouri politicos start their day off with a comprehensive list of links from news outlets across the state. Former field staffer for John Ashcroft, Combest left the political workforce world and moved into public relations, which he currently does for Monsanto Company. Never taking a day off, Combest posts links to stories about Missouri politics and news every morning by 7 a.m., helping news sources and blogs thrive with web traffic and providing a one-stop shop for the public.

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Legislative staff

David WillisWillis
Chief of Staff, Budget Chairman, Rep. Rick Stream
Twitter: @gopdavid

With the sheer size of the body and the Senate and Governor’s office both being much more autonomous, being the Chief of Staff to the House Budget Chairman can be a place where someone makes enemies quickly — but not Willis. His measured deliberate manner saw one of the most smooth budget years in recent memory. Things were so well in hand that the Chairman could be gone due to the death of his family and things moved along to passage. There are likely bigger and better things in store for Willis.

Kack HaslagHaslag
Legislative Assistant to Sen. Eric Schmitt
Twitter: @KackHaslag

Haslag makes the trains run on time. In an office for someone like Schmitt, who is highly active in controversial issues like the “liquor wars” bills and ISRS legislation, this could not be more important. Haslag is the gatekeeper for Schmitt and his staff, keeping Schmitt on a tight schedule and allowing the young Senator with his eye on higher office to focus on his work as a lawmaker. Haslag keeps lobbyists and special interests waiting, gets Schmitt to his most important meetings and events and is the grease that keeps the wheels turning in one of the busiest offices in the chamber.