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University of Missouri System bolsters government relations team

  

COLUMBIA, MO. – Mike Middleton is not the only person on campus with a new position.

The University of Missouri System made moves to expand it governmental relations team heading into the 2016 legislative session by adding Dave Smith as the new executive director of state governmental relations and finalizing a contract with the firm of Schreimann, Rackers, Francka & Blunt, LLC to lobby the legislature on behalf of the system.

Blunt
Blunt

Schreimann, Rackers, Francka & Blunt, LLC is one of the top governmental relations firms in Missouri whose principal is Andy Blunt, an alumni of the law school, and has a client list including several of the state’s leading companies, including Ameren Missouri, Burlington Northern Railroad, General Motors and the Missouri Hospital Association.

“The University of Missouri is my alma matter and has given a great deal to me and my family,” Blunt said. “It’s an honor to represent them in the capitol, and I am looking forward to sharing with legislators the exciting things happening within the system and forging deeper partnerships between the university system and General Assembly to move our state forward.”

Joining the university full time, Smith will be coordinating the system’s state governmental affairs operation. He was previously the Vice President of State Affairs at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“I am looking forward to representing the UM System and moving our state university in a positive direction,” Smith commented.

The moves come as there was a shakeup in system leadership. Earlier this week, Tim Wolfe left as president, and Bowen Loftin will be transitioning in to a new position out of the office of Chancellor of the Columbia campus at the first of the year.

The additions brought quick praise from legislators many of whom have been sharply critical of the system in recent months.  Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Boone County, commented, “I think Andy understands the changing dynamic of higher education nationwide and how best our university can truly partner with Republican majorities in Jefferson City. His experience will be of great value to MU and the UM system going forward.”

Senate Budget Chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Boone County, was also positive about the move.

“The University of Missouri system is one of our state’s greatest public assets,” Schaefer said. “These additions are positive steps toward increasing communication with the General Assembly and safeguarding its status as a world class higher education system.”

However, Rep. Jeremy LaFaver D-Jackson County, was critical, “Hiring the son and campaign manager of a US Senator who is engaged in one of the country’s closest senate races seems to invite additional, unnecessary scrutiny. I’m worried this may only inject additional partisanship where our state can least afford it right now.”

While Rep. Gina Mitten (D-St. Louis County) was encouraged by hires,  “The events of this summer and fall indicate Mizzou needs to do better, and these changes show they can do better with both the legislature and their student body. I look forward to working with David Smith and SRFB, they has always been helpful on legislative issues in the past, and I am glad that will continue with the university. I look forward to working with them.”