November 24, 2014

With no ’16 run, MO Speaker uses campaign chest for other GOPers

When Tim Jones announced he would not run for a statewide office in the 2016 campaign cycle, his campaign committee had more than $993-thousand dollars. Jones told Missourinet he won’t be letting that campaign money lie dormant.

Outgoing House Speaker Tim Jones (left) stands among the 118-member House Republican supermajority he says his donations helped elect, as incoming House Speaker John Diehl addresses the media.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Outgoing House Speaker Tim Jones (left) stands among the 118-member House Republican supermajority he says his donations helped elect, as incoming House Speaker John Diehl addresses the media. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“When my plans started solidifying in October and I realized that I might not need my campaign funds for the immediate future for myself, I began giving more money away again,” Jones said. “I believe I contributed more than 20-, 25-thousand dollars for this election cycle and largely was successful with the candidates I supported.”

The Missouri Ethics Commission shows Missourians for Tim Jones on October 22 contributed $10,500 to Representative Rick Stream’s campaign for St. Louis County Executive, which Stream narrowly lost, and on November 1, donated $7,500 to the House Republican Campaign Committee.

“I am absolutely going to continue doing what I’ve already done the last eight years with the funds that I’ve worked so hard to raise for conservative causes and conservative candidates,” said Jones. “I’m going to continue to support people.”

He might not donate it all, though.

“I will likely have some reserve left for I will keep for a potential run in the future, although I have no plans to run at this time in 2018 or beyond, but you never know how time and the passage of years changes perspective on things,” said Jones.

Jones could not seek another term in the House due to term limits.

Missouri lawmaker stands by post-election party switch

The state representative who switched parties after last week’s election expects to be more effective the next two years.

Representative Linda Black (at right of center, in glasses) stands with the Republican caucus shortly after announcing she was switching from the Democrat to the Republican party.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Linda Black (at right of center, in glasses) stands with the Republican House caucus shortly after announcing she was switching from the Democrat to the Republican party. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Linda Black has been elected to her final term as a state representative from Desloge, having won all four elections as a Democrat. A week ago this morning she announced she is now a Republican. She became the 118th member of the dominant House Republican caucus.

Black says she doesn’t regret her move, and says she’s received a lot of support.

“Like Ronald Reagan said years ago, he didn’t leave the party, the party left him,” says Black. “I think a lot of people are feeling that way after six years of President Obama. They don’t identify with his agenda and our country is in disarray.”

She says she switched parties because her beliefs on issues like abortion and gun control don’t mesh with those of the Democratic party, but she also thinks she can have more impact now.

“I just look forward to the next two years now and I think that I’ll be much more effective as a representative, which will benefit my district,” says Black.

Black says she has been supported by constituents in her decision to change parties.

“I can’t tell you the overwhelming amount of people that tell me they wish I wasn’t a Democrat because my voting record aligns with their beliefs but they’ve never voted for a Democrat,” says Black.

Her decision has earned sharp criticism from her former floor leader in the House, however.

The House Minority Leader says Black lied to voters

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis City) offered several amendments Tuesday attempting to plug Medicaid expansion back into the House's FY 2014 budget proposal.

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis City)

Representative Jacob Hummel (D-St. Louis) says he didn’t know about her switch until he saw it reported on social media.

“Never got a phone call from her, never got the courtesy of being told that to my face, which was a little upsetting,” says Hummel.

He accuses her of lying to the voters in St. Francois County.

“She lied to them with a straight face, went to the polls knowing she was going to switch. If I were them I’d be very upset,” says Hummel. “If she wanted to run as a Republican she could have done it back then or at least let them know that she was going to.”

Black says she hadn’t made the decision to change parties before the election.

“I wish maybe this had happened before filing or sometime during the summer or however that would have happened, but the timing that happened seemed to be where it naturally fell,” says Black. She says she woke up the morning after the election, “looked at what happened nationally and sat and thought about, ‘Where am I going to be in that Democrat minority?’ I know where that would have been; the minority of the minority.”

Black says Hummel remains a good friend of hers, but in response to his criticism, she notes that her stance on the issues that led to her switch hasn’t changed.

“Jake and I, we part ways on social, moral convictions. He came in as a pro-life Democrat and now is voting pro-choice. I’ve remained consistent,” says Black.

Black says she will pursue a bill to provide more information to a woman considering an abortion about her pregnancy, and will support the “sanctity of marriage” and gun rights.

She says she doesn’t know yet what her political future will be beyond the end of her time in the House in two years.

 

Sen. Scott Sifton seeks Missouri Attorney General’s office in 2016

A state senator from the St. Louis region has announced he will seek the Democratic nomination for Attorney General in 2016.

Senator Scott Sifton

Senator Scott Sifton

Affton senator Scott Sifton becomes the first Democrat to announce his candidacy for the office currently held by fellow Democrat Chris Koster, whose term is nearing its end and who is running for governor in 2016.

Sifton could find himself running against Columbia state senator Kurt Schaefer, the only Republican to formally announce his candidacy for Attorney General in the 2016 election cycle.

Sifton previously worked in the attorney general’s office and is a partner in the St. Louis law firm of Husch Blackwell. He served two years in the House before being elected to the Senate in 2012.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Sifton writes, “I am tremendously grateful for the experience I gained early in my legal career working on special prosecutions and defending against criminal appeals in the Missouri Attorney General’s office. I pledge that as Attorney General, I will work to make Missouri safer for every family, consumer, community and business.”

Missouri lawmakers consider using new budget powers (VIDEO)

Legislative Republicans say they might use their new power to release money the governor is holding back sooner than later. Governor Jay Nixon’s budget chief says they’ll have to wait.

House Speaker-designee John Diehl, Junior (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

House Speaker-designee John Diehl, Junior (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“Probably in January, my guess would be, we’re going to get a tryout of Amendment 10 fairly early,” House Speaker-Designate John Diehl, Junior tells reporters.

Diehl is referring to the amendment passed by voters Tuesday that allows the state legislature to vote to override a governor’s decision to withhold money in the budget in the same way it does a veto. Nixon is still restricting more than $503-million in General Revenue, and Diehl says lawmakers might try to release some of that.

“There’s still, as I understand, hundreds of millions of dollars of withholds yet the governor is attempting to prepare a fairly significant supplemental budget,” says Diehl. “How do you have a supplemental budget saying there’s additional moneys to appropriate while you’re withholding money saying the money’s not there?”

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering says there isn’t necessarily a way to connect withholding money on one hand while asking on the other for more to be appropriated in a supplemental budget. She says funding requested in a supplemental budget could be for programs considered more important or more imperative than the items for which money is being withheld.

“For example one we typically have in the supplemental process is if mental health needs more funding for overtime for their staff. That’s a perennial supplemental,” says Luebbering. “They have to pay the staff that money and they have to have those staff because they’re working in 24-hour institutions. We can’t tell those people not to show up.”

Luebbering says the governor had to withhold money in the budget because it was based on a projected growth in state revenue of 11-percent, and the state is only projected to experience a growth of 5.2-percent, causing him to have to withhold money.

Further, she doesn’t believe the legislature can use its new Amendment 10 powers on withholds that have already been made.

“The Amendment is not backward-looking. The attorneys, I’m sure, will probably argue about that, but when new law goes into effect it’s forward-looking,” says Luebbering. “If the governor took new actions after that amendment goes into effect which is 30 days after voters approved it, then those new actions would be eligible for the new process. Actions he’s already taken are not.”

Republicans have said they are still reviewing the state’s budgetary situation and whether they could use the Amendment 10 process on withholds already in place.

Diehl and other legislators on both sides of the aisle have accused Nixon of using withholds to try to force the legislature to act in a way he wants it to on specific pieces of legislation or vetoes. Diehl says the vote on Tuesday shows Missourians agree with that criticism.

When they do have that ability, Diehl says it will be used responsibly.

“If there’s a withhold because it clearly needs to be withheld, we’re going to respect that, but if it’s something that’s just being used for blackmail or leverage in other political situations, I don’t think we’ll hesitate to use the constitutional powers that the voters gave us,” says Diehl.

Video:  Speaker-designee Diehl thinks voters sent Gov. Nixon a (courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Amendment Ten worries Missouri Governor Nixon (AUDIO)

Governor Nixon is reviewing the implications of an amendment approved this week that he thinks limits his power to keep the state budget in balance.

Governor Jay Nixon announces he will make cuts and layoffs in the Department of Motor Vehicles if the legislature carries through with a proposal to provide only eight months' worth of funding to that Department.

Governor Jay Nixon.

Nixon and the Republican-dominated legislature have butted heads repeatedly about Nixon’s practice of withholding funding from projects and programs after lawmakers approve a state budget. Nixon says it’s his job to keep the state from deficit spending throughout a fiscal year.  Amendment Ten, approved by 57% of the voters earlier this week, lets the legislature override his decisions to withhold.

Nixon says the present situation illustrates the challenge the legislature has created for itself and for him–a budget that requires state revenue to grow twice as fast as it is growing. “You can’t spend money we don’t have,” he says.

Lawmakers say they have been forced to put the amendment before voters because Nixon has played politics by withholding funds.   Some Republicans already are talking of overriding some withholds when the new legislative session begins in January.   Nixon says he’ll just do the best he can to keep the budget in balance.

AUDIO: Nixon press conference 15:00