New York Times: Missouri Attorney General May Face Inquiry Over Money From Lobbyists
Ozark Area Network: Report: Koster Aggressively Pursued by Lobbyists
The Missouri Times: Koster takes heat on “pay-to-play” allegations
Missouri Business Alert: Koster reportedly stopped energy drink investigation after lobbyist interaction
The Turner Report: New York Times: Koster shuts down probe after lobbyist’s request at cocktail party
Post-Dispatch: Koster dismisses New York Times report that he coddles contributors
News-Tribune: Koster denies allegations of political favors
PoliticMo: While Chris Koster takes fire, Missouri Democrats stay mum
PoliticMo: Missouri lawmakers considering investigation into “pay-to-play” by Missouri attorney general
The Turner Report: Tim Jones on Times investigation: Chris Koster has violated the public trust
ABC 17: Missouri House speaker forming Koster panel
St. Joseph Post: Missouri House speaker forming panel to investigate Koster
The Eagle: Hartzler preaches tax cuts to get economy back on track
The Missouri Times: VIDEO: Missouri’s 24th Senatorial District Debate
Post-Dispatch: Republicans try to boost their super-majority in Missouri House
The Missourian: State representative candidates weigh in about Medicaid expansion
Post-Dispatch: Sinquefield already thumbing the scales for 2016 governor’s race
The Rolla Daily News: McCaskill, Koster each give $50K more to Democrats
The Missourian: LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Stop trying to standardize teachers
The Turner Report: Fox News interview: Roy Blunt discusses Obama overreach on immigration
The Missourian: STEVE SPELLMAN: Ballot propositions shift funding sources, not necessarily in best ways
KMOV: Group supporting property tax increase Wentzville accused of misleading voters
News-Tribune: Boone prosecutor says police body cameras raise workload
News-Tribune: Holder: Ferguson police need ‘wholesale change’
Fox 2: Holder tells grand jury leaker to “shut up”
KMOV: Ferguson fallout reaches race for county executive
The Missouri Times: Eyes On: New Media, Old Media, and Ferguson
Fox 2: “One Ferguson” working on change from within
Post-Dispatch: It’s time to stop studying
Mediaite: CNN Analyst Pretty Damn Sure Ferguson Will Riot if Officer Isnt Indicted
Fox 2: Controversial cover: Student newspaper posts vulgar Ferguson remarks
KMOV: Video: Protesters harassing officer in Ferguson
KMOV: What would happen if Ferguson dissolved its police department?
KPLR: Federal, state and local officials duke it out over Ferguson investigation
KPLR: Captain Ron Johnson wants to improve race relations in the region
KPLR: Officer Darren Wilson dropped as witness in several pending felony cases
KMOV: Ferguson-Florissant school district preps for more unrest
Attorney General Chris Koster accepted campaign contributions from law firms that submitted proposals for contingency fee contracts, an audit report says.
Thirteen firms that bid to work with the AG’S office on major lawsuits gave contributions to Koster totaling more than $170,000 in 2011, the report said. These firms represented nearly half of the 28 that responded to the AG’s office request for proposals.
“He can retain control over the procurement process, but he ought not to be soliciting campaign contributions at the same time,” Spence Jackson, spokesman for Missouri Auditor Thomas Schweich, told Missouri Watchdog. “It’s certainly an appearance of impropriety.”
Koster, a Democrat who took office in 2009, is running for re-election this fall. He is unopposed in the Aug. 7 primary, and will face Libertarian Dave Browning and one of two Republican candidates, Ed Martin or Adam Lee Warren, in the Nov. 6 general election.
Schweich, a Republican, said in Wednesday’s audit that Koster retained the right to accept or reject proposals for the contracts and solicit new responses after asking theOffice of Administration to handle the process. The report noted that state law does has no provision that allows the AG to retain such control.
In April, the AG was evaluating proposals in lawsuits regarding the drug Avandia, thePetroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund, and pricing violations involving the pharmaceutical industry. The audit said the state might recover significant money in the three lawsuits, and law firms picked to assist on the cases stand to receive hefty fees.
Jackson said Koster agreed to hand over complete control regarding decisions about the contracts to the Office of Administration during Schweich’s investigation.
The AG’s office remained largely silent over the issue Wednesday. SpokeswomanNanci Gonder did not return a call for comment, but responded to an email, saying “We appreciate the auditor’s efforts on this project, and will certainly take his thoughts into consideration.”
Martin used the opportunity to take a swipe at his political adversary.
“Tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions are tied directly to those contingency fee contracts in what appears to be a pay-to-play scheme,” he said in a statement provided to Watchdog. “This sort of mismanagement and pay-to-play scheming is unacceptable from the attorney general’s office.”
The audit also found other issues with the AG’s office, giving Koster an overall grade of “fair” – the second worst score. This means the organization audited needs to improve operations in several areas.
Schweich’s report said the office spent $4.6 million for legal and expert witnesses for the three years ending June 30, 2011, but didn’t explain how and why they were selected.
“There’s missing records in a lot of those cases,” Jackson said.
Only 20 of 56 payments during the period provided documentation on the selection process.
Koster’s office uses periodic observations by timekeepers to determine when employees are present, which doesn’t provide assurance that hours are accounted for accurately, according to the audit.
Attorneys provide manual timesheets, but Schweich’s staff found discrepancies between the written and the computer records. The audit recommends the use of a standardized electronic timesheet.
The study also found that the AG’s financial services division fails to prepare an initial record of money received in the mail, which makes it difficult to ensure the money is accurately accounted.
“We feel like they took our recommendations to heart and are going to make the necessary changes,” Jackson said.
He said Schweich will likely audit the office again next year. State law requires the auditor to study the AG’s office once per term.
The office was last audited in June 2009, when now Gov. Jay Nixon was completing his final term after 16 years as AG. Some of the information used in the latest audit includes Nixon’s last year as AG.
New York Times Hammers Attorney General Chris Koster With Pay to Play Allegations, Speaker Jones Considers Action
The New York Times published a scathing article on a national pay-to-play scheme targeting attorneys general, but it paid particular attention to Missouri’s own Chris Koster:
A lawyer for 5-Hour Energy roamed the event, setting her sights on Attorney General Chris Koster of Missouri, whose office was one of those investigating the company.
“My client just received notification that Missouri is on this,” the lawyer, Lori Kalani, told him.
Ms. Kalani’s firm, Dickstein Shapiro, had courted the attorney general at dinners and conferences and with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. Mr. Koster told Ms. Kalani that he was unaware of the investigation, and he reached for his phone and called his office. By the end of the weekend, he had ordered his staff to pull out of the inquiry, a clear victory for 5-Hour Energy.
The quick reversal, confirmed by Mr. Koster and Ms. Kalani, was part of a pattern of successful lobbying of Mr. Koster by the law firm on behalf of clients like Pfizer and AT&T — and evidence of a largely hidden dynamic at work in state attorneys general offices across the country.
Mr. Koster said he regretted the prominence of groups like DAGA and RAGA — as the Democratic and Republican attorneys general associations are known — saying the partisanship and increased emphasis on money had been damaging.
“I wish those two organizations did not exist,” Mr. Koster said during an interview at his office in Kansas City, even though the Democratic group has contributed at least $1.4 million to his election campaigns, more than any other source.
But he rejected any suggestion that his office had taken actions as a result of the lobbying, instead blaming mistakes made by his staff for moves that ended up benefiting Dickstein’s clients.
In Missouri, as in other states, the attorney general’s office has provided a springboard to higher office, either to the governor’s mansion or the Senate. So even before Mr. Koster was sworn in for his second term, he was being mentioned as a candidate for higher office. And that made him an ideal target for the team at Dickstein.
The Dickstein lawyers have donated to his campaigns, invited him and his chief deputy to be featured speakers at law firm events and hosted Mr. Koster at dinners, and stayed in close contact with his office in emails that suggest unusual familiarity.
The relationship seems to have benefited some Dickstein clients.
Pfizer, the New York-based pharmaceutical giant, had hired Dickstein to help settle a case brought by at least 20 states, which accused the company of illegally marketing two of its drugs — Zyvox and Lyrica — for unapproved uses, or making exaggerated claims about their effectiveness.
Instead of participating in the unified investigation with other states — which gives attorneys general greater negotiating power — Mr. Koster’s office worked directly with Mr. Nash and Pfizer’s assistant general counsel, Markus Green.
Mr. Nash negotiated with Deputy Attorney General Joseph P. Dandurand through a series of emails, followed by a visit to Missouri in April 2013.
But both Pfizer and Dickstein had already built a relationship with Mr. Koster. Dickstein had participated in at least four fund-raising events for Mr. Koster, with its lawyers and the firm donating $13,500 to his campaigns, records show.
Several of those contributions came after Mr. Nash had invited Mr. Koster to participate in an “executive briefing” at the Park Hyatt for Dickstein’s clients. That same day, Mr. Koster held a fund-raising event, taking in contributions from Mr. Nash and other lawyers involved in matters that Mr. Koster would soon be, or already was, investigating, the records show.
“The folks at Pfizer are very appreciative and excited to hear from the General.” J. B. KELLY, a Dickstein partner, writing to a Missouri official about an appearance by the attorney general at an event sponsored by Pfizer.
Pfizer had directly donated at least $20,000 to Mr. Koster since 2009 — more than it gave to any other state attorney general, according to company records. That does not include the $320,000 that Pfizer donated during the same period to the Democratic Attorneys General Association, which in turn has donated to Mr. Koster’s campaigns.
Mr. Koster said his office was forced to negotiate directly with Mr. Nash and Pfizer because a staff lawyer missed a deadline to participate in the multistate investigation.
“This was an accident,” Mr. Koster said, adding that since he became attorney general in 2009, his office has participated in six cases against Pfizer that brought a total of $26 million to Missouri.
But the emails show that just as the negotiations on the 2013 case were intensifying, Mr. Koster’s chief deputy received an unusual invitation: Would the attorney general be interested in flying to Chicago to be the keynote speaker at a breakfast that Pfizer was sponsoring for its political action committee?
The topic was “the importance of corporations’ building productive relationships with A.G.s,” according to an email in March from Dickstein to Mr. Dandurand.
“As you know, these relationships are important to allow A.G.s and corporations to work together to address important public policy issues of concern to both the A.G. and the corporation,” the invitation said. “The conference participants also would like to hear how these relationships can help to efficiently address A.G.s’ questions or concerns before they escalate into major problems (like multistate investigations or litigation), as well as how they can carry over when A.G.s are elected to higher offices.”
Mr. Dandurand worked to accommodate the request.
“Trying now to clear his calendar,” Mr. Dandurand wrote back to the Dickstein lawyer, before confirming that Mr. Koster would accept the invitation.
“The folks at Pfizer are very appreciative and excited to hear from the General,” J. B. Kelly, a partner at Dickstein, replied.
Five days later — and just before Mr. Koster was scheduled to give the speech — Mr. Dandurand and Mr. Nash met to discuss a settlement in the fraud investigation. They agreed that Pfizer would pay Missouri $750,000 — at least $350,000 less than it would have collected if it had been part of the multistate investigation.
“Thank you for the meeting,” Mr. Nash wrote to Mr. Dandurand, after the settlement meeting in Missouri. “Pfizer is pleased.”
Mr. Koster said Missouri received a smaller payment from Pfizer because the state had less leverage after missing the multistate deadline. Oregon, the other state to negotiate directly with Pfizer on the Zyvox matter, secured a settlement worth $3.4 million — four times what Missouri received — even though Oregon’s population is far smaller.
Pfizer was not the only Dickstein client pleased with the firm’s representation before Mr. Koster’s office.
AT&T was also subject to an investigation by Mr. Koster’s office, something that Mr. Nash learned at the conference held at the Loews hotel. And like Ms. Kalani, Mr. Nash pleaded his case directly with Mr. Koster.
Three weeks after the conversation with Mr. Nash, Mr. Koster’s office took a step that questioned the legal strategy of a multistate investigation of AT&T’s billing practices, email records show. Mr. Koster did not officially back out of the inquiry, and Missouri ultimately benefited from a national settlement announced this month.
But frustrating leaders of the multistate investigation, Mr. Koster decided to join a small group of attorneys general who, to the industry’s pleasure, wanted to resolve the matter without subpoenas or the threat of a lawsuit, the emails show.
Mr. Koster said the donations had no effect on his actions, adding that he was determined to investigate the company for its deceptive billing practices. With 5-Hour Energy, he added, he pulled out of the investigation because he did not believe it was merited — adding that he personally uses the energy drink.
Yet he said he was angry that his staff had not notified him before joining investigations into these two major companies.
“Its stock price would move at the mere mention of our involvement,” Mr. Koster said, referring to AT&T.
Mr. Nash’s appeals were not finished.
A month after returning from the Santa Monica meeting, Mr. Koster adopted a new office policy requiring lawyers and managers in his consumer affairs division to get approval from his top aides before opening any investigations involving a publicly traded company or any company with more than 10 employees.
Mr. Nash and Lisa A. Rickard, a senior executive from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, were so pleased with the change that they asked Mr. Koster to give a talk about his new office policy at a meeting of attorneys general in Washington.
“This is going to be titled my Lisa Rickard memorial presentation,” Mr. Koster said at the February 2014 meeting. “She was the one who initiated this idea.”
The email records also reveal the personal nature of the relationship between Mr. Koster’s office and the lawyers at Dickstein.
In an August 2013 exchange, in which the attorney general’s office assured Mr. Nash that it would not share potentially damaging information on a Dickstein client with another state attorney general who was investigating the company — saying the documents were considered confidential — the conversation took a sudden turn away from business.
“Let’s go bowling sometime,” Mr. Dandurand wrote.
“Thanks,” Mr. Nash wrote back. “I’d rather eat and drink with you any time, any place.”
Read the entire article here.
According to the Missouri Times, the AG’s office issued this statement:
“This Attorney General’s office has consistently protected Missouri consumers from fraud, regardless of the identity of those responsible. Contrary to the inferences contained in today’s New York Times article, this office reviews each case on its merits. We have taken legal action against Pfizer at least six times and have taken legal action against AT&T at least twice. Together, these cases have resulted in millions of dollars on behalf of Missouri consumers. Currently, Missouri is among the 44 states in the country that have not filed suit against 5 Hour Energy.
Today’s article in the New York Times misrepresents the facts, distorting events to create an appearance of impropriety where none exists. The factual explanations provided weeks ago to the New York Times are attached.”
Here’s the full correspondence between the AG’s office and the New York Times:
Speaker Tim Jones issued the following press release in response to the New York Times story:
“The thorough investigative work of one of our nation’s most prominent news outlets has exposed what appears to be an egregious violation of the public’s trust perpetuated by Attorney General Koster. Missourians expect and deserve public officials who will defend their rights and, in this case, protect them from the deceptive marketing practices of unscrupulous corporations. Instead they have an Attorney General who apparently makes filling his campaign coffers his top priority rather than fulfilling his oath to the people of Missouri to uphold our laws. I am deeply disturbed by the multiple examples of apparent pay-to-play schemes uncovered by the New York Times, and am currently examining the options we have as a legislative body to further investigate these allegations and ensure that Attorney General Koster is held accountable for his actions.”
I look at all of this and think one thing:
— Duane Lester (@Bodhi1) October 29, 2014
Update: Turns out, I wasn’t:
— John Lamping (@JohnLamping) October 29, 2014
For years, people who worked at a Kansas City plant that’s been known as Bendix, AlliedSignal and Honeywell have become sick. The companies that owned the plant worked with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration.
In 2009, The Pitch wrote about the facility:
The 60-year-old building will soon be abandoned. Honeywell is condensing its services and moving to a new, $673 million facility at Missouri Highway 150 and Botts Road. The General Services Administration, which also has offices at the Bannister Federal Complex, is pulling up its stakes, too. In June, representatives from Honeywell and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources told members of the City Council that they are proud of the cleanup that has already been done at the site, at a cost of $65 million.
But people have been abandoned, too: former workers who live with chronic pain, who struggle to breathe or who have died.
In 2010, KSHB covered how these sick workers were briefed on their rights:
An NBC Action News investigation has identified approximately 370 workers, many of them deceased, with cancer, breathing conditions and other illnesses experts say could be caused by toxins.
A government report identifies 785 known toxins at the facility and the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control are conducting additional investigations.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) organized the meeting, but didn’t announce it until Friday.
In the news release issued three days before today’s event, Cleaver’s office indicated sick workers would be walked through government programs to help the sick.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s office organized the meeting, which would indicate they are knowledgeable of the subject.
Why would Cleaver claim to be nothing more than a “dumb, Methodist preacher” then when asked if he’d help the sick who are still getting the runaround?
That’s exactly what he said. When asked if he’d help the sick people of Kansas City, he replied, “That’s not my job.”
From the September 4, 2014 edition of KKFI’s “Tell Somebody,” you can here Rep. Cleaver’s empathy for Kansas City workers:
Interviewer: “About sick workers. Sick workers from the Kansas City Plant?”
Aide: “I don’t think he knows anything about that.”
Cleaver: “I don’t have any information on that.”[garbled audio]
Cleaver: “I’m just a dumb Methodist preacher, I don’t know anything about that.”
Interviewer: “But you used to work there, and you as a representative, some of the workers feel like you’re not paying enough attention to them on those issues.”
Cleaver: “That’s not my job.”
Hundreds of sick workers, struggling to get the help they need from the Federal government, look to Cleaver for help and he replies, “That’s not my job.”
His empathy is overwhelming.
The unions that help fund his campaign must be pleased with their investment.
Update: Nice Deb has a great post on this at Breitbart.
A lot of chatter is made regarding Rex Sinquefield’s donations here in Missouri, usually by the left. However, Rex’s loot doesn’t just flow to Republicans. Here are a few of Rex’s favorite Democrats, as listed by Progress Missouri’s list:
Charlie Dooley – $100,000 – Jeanne Sinquefield – 3/27/2014
Charlie Dooley – $50,000 – Rex Sinquefield – 7/24/2014
Charlie Dooley – $50,000 – Rex Sinquefield – 7/31/2014
Charlie Dooley – $100,000 – Rex Sinquefield – 6/30/2013
Courtney Curtis – $250 – Missourians for Excellence in Government – 9/22/2014
Francis Slay – $50,000 – Missourians for Excellence in Government – 1/19/2013
Francis Slay – $50,000 – Missourians for Excellence in Government – 2/2/2013
Francis Slay – $50,000 – Missourians for Excellence in Government – 3/2/2013
Jamilah Nasheed – $2,500 – Missourians for Excellence in Government – 9/22/2014
Jeremy LaFaver – $4,800 – Missourians for Excellence in Government – 8/6/2014
Keith English – $4,500 – Missourians for Excellence in Government – 7/22/2014
Maria Chappelle Nadal – $2,500 – Missourians for Excellence in Government – 9/22/2014
Scott Sifton – $2,500 – Missourians for Excellence in Government – 7/22/2014
Now, this Saturday, Missourians for Excellence in Government donated $70,000 to the Jefferson County Labor Political Committee. The question being asked is will the money end up in Rep. Jeff Roorda’s campaign coffers?
It wouldn’t be the group’s first donation to the Roorda campaign.
Paul Curtman, incumbent candidate for Missouri House of Representatives, 109th District, was recently vetted by the Missouri Political CHIPS Group and has received his 5 CHIPS status. Representative Curtman was elected in 2010 and faces Democrat challenger Bonnie Bollman on November 4th. More information about his campaign issues and events can be found at www.paulcurtman.com.
Mike Moon, incumbent candidate for Missouri House of Representatives, 157th District, was also recently vetted by the Missouri Political CHIPS Group and has received his 5 CHIPS status. Representative Moon was elected in 2012 and faces Democrat challenger Vince Jennings on November 4th. More information about Representative Moon’s campaign issues can be found at www.mikemoonformissouri.com.
The Missouri Political CHIPS Group is an organization of citizens that tests and vets candidates for office, regardless of party affiliation, from school boards and county candidates to state district, statewide, and United States Congress seats. CHIPS is an acronym for Constitution, Honor, Independence, Prosperity, and Sanctity, and these comprise the “5 CHIPS.” The CHIPS organization’s purpose is to promote the principles of limited government and free market enterprise. The group seeks to find Constitutionally principled public servants as candidates for office.
More information regarding this program is available at www.PoliticalCHIPS.org. Political candidates or current office holders who wish to be vetted should make their request in the comment box following the CHIPS survey questions.
Have you ever looked at the hate Rep. Jeff Roorda gets on Twitter?
Because of his opposition to police wearing body cameras, his defense of an officer who assaulted a young, handcuffed black kid and the Ferguson situation as a whole, Rep. Jeff Roorda might be the second or third most hated person on Twitter.
Any association with him is likely to result in abuse or threats.
I wonder if that’s why, after two full days on Facebook, still no one will admit they are voting for him on Tuesday:
It could be embarrassment also, I suppose.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In partnership with the Truman School of Public Affairs, today Representative Paul Curtman announced an upcoming public policy forum designed to highlight innovative and efficient bureaucratic management strategies. The forum, titled Seeking Better Value in Government: P3s and Best Value Procurement, is being hosted on the campus of the University of Missouri and will also feature Speaker-designee John Diehl as part of his 100 Great Ideas for Missouri Initiative focusing on government reforms.
“When I was named chair of the Downsizing State Government Committee, I knew there were tangible ways that we could shrink the cost of operating our government,” said Rep. Curtman. “In fact,” he continued, “the two public policies featured in this forum are already at work in other states saving their taxpayers tens of millions on various public projects. I believe that merits further dialogue and I’m happy to bring in the folks on the ground in those states that have helped lead the way.”
Rep. John Diehl added, “As part of my 100 Great Ideas initiative, I have asked the citizens of Missouri to contribute ideas to make Missouri a better state. Paul has taken that and run with it. He has consistently been forward thinking and aggressive in his pursuit to foster a more cooperative, leaner government. I look forward to discussing his cost saving ideas and other topics that he has researched in his role as chair of the Downsizing State Government Committee.”
Rep. Curtman resides in Union, Mo and represents much of Franklin County. As the chair of the Downsizing State Government Committee, his research and work has focused on seeking out ways to save money through efficient operations in Missouri’s multi-billion dollar bureaucracy. Rep. Curtman has hosted scholars from Arizona State University and Harvard, public sector innovators, and private sector practitioners that collaborate with local, state, and federal bureaucracies to reduce overhead. For more information on his endeavors, please visit www.downsizingmogov.com. Registration for the forum can be completed at www.downsizingmogov.com/register.
Missouri Business Alert: State senator says he has support now for Medicaid expansion
St. Joseph Post: Missouri Lawmaker Hopeful About Medicaid Expansion
St. Louis Business Journal: Missouri lawmaker says he has support for Medicaid expansion
Missouri Business Alert: Morning Minutes: Common Core in focus, Silvey sees Medicaid support
The Missourian: GUEST COMMENTARY: Missouri should embrace the Common Core conflict
The Eagle: Republican supermajorities at risk next week
KBIA: Big money flows to Missouri local judge’s race
The Eagle: Stumpe distances himself from attack ads
The Missourian: Missouri executions proceed at record-setting pace
Post-Dispatch: U.S. Supreme Court stays Missouri inmate’s execution
Berger’s Bet: STEVE STENGER VS. RICK STREAM
Ozark Area Network: McCaskill, Koster Each Give Another $50K to Democrats
The Missouri Times: State Parties bank accounts play different roles in 2014
Jefferson County Penknife: Audacious Roorda Ad
The Missouri Times: VIDEO: The Battle for JeffCo – Missouri’s 22nd Senatorial District Panel
St. Joseph Post: St. Joseph City Council members wants voters to approve use tax for better streets
The Missourian: Presiding-commissioner candidate Pounds wants Boone County to stay affordable
KMOV: Report: State contracts should go to more minority owned businesses
Dexter Daily Statesman: Amendment 3 opponents continue beating drum as election nears
Post-Dispatch: State Board wants to hear Normandy’s reality
St. Joseph Post: Another Mo. University extends benefits to same-sex spouses
KPLR: Businesses plan for civil unrest following Ferguson grand jury announcement
News-Tribune: Schools fretting over Ferguson grand jury announcement
KMOV: Ferguson Police Chief: I am not resigning
Fox 2: Congressman Lacy Clay calling for changes to municipal court system
News-Tribune: Clay wants wider civil rights investigation
KPLR: Massive reform package developing in Ferguson
The Missourian: Ferguson bar sues over police command post
KSHB: More drug cases involving Officer Wilson dropped