Missouri’s 1st District Congressman Lacy Clay said farewell to colleagues and constituents today, after serving two decades in Congress. He was defeated in the party primary by Cori Bush, a local civil rights activist in St. Louis.
Voters in northern Missouri are sending U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, back to Washington for his 11th term on Capitol Hill. Graves captured 67 percent of the vote Tuesday against Platte City Democrat Gena Ross.
Graves, the ranking Republican on the U.S. House Transportation Committee, tells Missourinet that it’s humbling to be re-elected.
“You know I want to continue to do exactly what I do, and that is represent the 6th District to Washington D.C. I will not represent Washington D.C. back to the 6th District,” Graves says.
His top priority is getting the economy open again.
“We have businesses and small businesses that are literally going broke because of what the government has done. And we have to get this economy going again and we got to get people back on their feet,” says Graves.
He’s also focusing on agriculture. He notes there are fewer and fewer farmers in the Congress.
The sixth congressional district covers 36 counties, and is larger than nine states. Graves’ district includes St. Joseph, Bethany, Chillicothe, Hannibal, Macon and Memphis.
Graves is the new dean of Missouri’s congressional delegation, after U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, was defeated in the August primary by Cori Bush. Ms. Bush was elected to Congress on Tuesday, becoming the first African-American female to represent the state in Congress.
Graves and Clay had been the co-deans of the delegation. Both were elected to Congress in 2000.
Copyright © 2020 · Missourinet
Fifty federal officers from different agencies will be assisting St. Louis police to cope with the recent resurgence of violent crime.
Governor Mike Parson attended the press conference in St. Louis Thursday for the extension of a program first tried in Kansas City. He said violent crime continues to be a ‘serious problem in the state.”
“We’ve got to get more resources in here to find violent criminals not only here but across the state. What happens in St. Louis is a huge factor for the entire state. This is not just a St. Louis problem,” Parson said.
In the past year, the governor has put extra state troopers in St. Louis and the state attorney general has been working with U.S. Attorney Jeff Jenson in prosecuting violent offenders.
The federal-state approach in Kansas City was dubbed Operation LeGend for four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was fatally shot while he slept inside his home early on June 29. Other cities like Memphis, Tennessee, Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee have agreed to a similar partnership.
The U.S Department of Justice is dedicating agents from ATF, FBI, DEA, and U.S. Marshals Service to aid St. Louis. The Bureau of Justice Assistance will offer $1 million to support local law enforcement in shot spotter responses and violent crime investigations
After St. Louis Congressman Lacy Clay has been expressing his concern about letting federal agents into the city, U.S. Attorney Jensen insists that this task force is nothing like what happened in Portland, Oregon.
“What Operation LeGend is not, is protection of federal buildings, protection of federal properties. It’s not riot police, it’s not officers wearing fatigues. This is purely a violent crime effort, an effort to reduce the terrible murder rate we’ve seen lately, 53 murders in July in a city of 300,000.” Jensen said.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson confirmed that she welcomes the help because her city has “fewer police officers than we’ve had in 10 to 15 years.”
“This is all about our federal partners here working along with our St. Louis Police Department, side-by-side with our officers in a cooperative and collaborative way to stem violent crime,” she said at the Thursday press conference.
Missouri lawmakers have been meeting in a special session called by the governor to address the state’s surge in homicides and violent crimes. The Senate debated a bill today and the parties clashed over the idea of hiring police officers from outside of a city. St. Louis Democrats in the Senate don’t think the state should be deciding for them. Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden of Columbia says he wants more qualified boots on the ground no matter where they live.
Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is urging U.S. Attorney General William Barr to allow the Justice Department to review the practices and training of local police departments in rooting out misconduct and implementing reforms.
This comes at the suggestion and support of Reps. Emanuel Cleaver from the Kansas City area and Lacy Clay of the St. Louis area.
They all agree that the Department of Justice in the past successfully used this process to address misconduct in local departments, including the Ferguson Police Department and the Baltimore Police Department. Review DOJ Ferguson Report.
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions abandoned the policy in 2018 and according to Blunt, it was not reinstated by Barr.
“Unfortunately, news reports indicate that the Department of Justice has walked away from pattern-or-practice reviews in recent years. Additionally, the Department of Justice implemented a policy change in November 2018 that placed tighter restrictions on the use of consent decrees, making it more difficult to pursue reforms where they are needed.,” Blunt says in his letter.
Blunt says this is not necessary in some cases but needs to be an option. He says the current response of the Justice Department and many local jurisdictions is to investigate one officer instead of the underlying practices.
“There are some situations that the best solution is the review of the department, and the patterns and the procedures and the practices of that department,” Blunt told Missourinet.
“I attribute the success in Ferguson and the atmospheric conditions there to the Justice Department’s patterns and practices report and then Ferguson entered into a consent decree with the Justice Department to correct those things,” Cleaver told Missourinet.
“As a result of those corrections, Ferguson is now a whole different town. It used to be one of the ‘sundown towns’ in Missouri, where you have to be out of there by the time the sun goes down. And here it is now with the first female mayor and the first African-American mayor all-in-one.”
Ella Jones was elected mayor of Ferguson Tuesday.
Blunt, Cleaver and Clay have also called on Barr to investigate the practices of the Minneapolis Police Department after four officers have been charged in the murder of George Floyd. The on-video death has prompted protests in every state in the country, as well as international rallies against racism.
Cleaver says this is the time to confront police practices and training.
“We may not get another chance to do this without really having some bad things happen on the streets of this country, that I don’t think anybody of goodwill wants to happen. There are people who would like to see a race war, we’ve heard people express that. And the fact that this could happen here shows us the fragility of where we are in this country as it relates to race,” Cleaver said.
Following is the full text of the Senator Blunt’s letter:
Dear Attorney General Barr,
In the wake of the recent tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Americans are rightfully demanding justice and accountability. To that end, I write to urge you to use your authority as the nation’s top law enforcement officer to root out misconduct in local police departments and to help restore trust between these departments and the communities they serve.
When the Department of Justice has reason to believe that local police departments have engaged in systemic misconduct that violates the Constitution or federal law, it has a proven track record of using pattern-or-practice reviews to investigate. If misconduct is established, the Department of Justice may act on that information by entering into a consent decree requiring court-enforced reforms.
Unfortunately, news reports indicate that the Department of Justice has walked away from pattern-or-practice reviews in recent years. Additionally, the Department of Justice implemented a policy change in November 2018 that placed tighter restrictions on the use of consent decrees, making it more difficult to pursue reforms where they are needed. I ask that you immediately resume the robust use of pattern-or-practice reviews and reinstate a policy that allows greater latitude for officials to enter into consent decrees.
Missouri provides an example of how valuable these tools can be. Following the unrest that occurred in response to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Anthony Lamar Smith in the City of St. Louis, three St. Louis-area police departments underwent comprehensive reviews by the Department of Justice to examine police department practices and law enforcement responses to protests. The Department of Justice’s actions included a pattern-or-practice review of the Ferguson Police Department, which led to a consent decree to address unlawful police practices.
St. Louis-area law enforcement and community leaders have worked tirelessly to address community fear and anger since the civil unrest in 2014. There is more work to be done, but there is a foundation for continued progress that is built on a full accounting of past violations and detailed recommendations for reform.
I have seen firsthand how the federal government can play an important role in addressing failures in the local justice system, rebuilding trust in police departments, and restoring confidence in government institutions. I am not advocating for any action that would allow for federal control of local departments or place undue burdens on them. We need to be mindful of concerns about federal overreach that would be counterproductive to implementing needed reforms at the local level. However, these principles can coexist with policies that give the Department of Justice the ability to address injustice in full measure.
I appreciate your attention and consideration. Your leadership is indispensable as the federal government responds to unlawful actions across the nation and upholds justice and the rule of law.
Missouri’s senior Democrat on Capitol Hill is condemning the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying that systematic racism and excessive force led to Floyd’s death.
U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, spoke Saturday at an Urban League food distribution event in Florissant, which is a north St. Louis County suburb.
“That video doesn’t lie, and the whole world is watching,” Clay tells the audience. “George Floyd was not resisting arrest, he was resisting strangulation.”
Former officer Derek Chauvin is charged in Minnesota with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Congressman Clay is calling on the other three officers and a medic to be charged as accessories.
“The medic who made no effort to save his (Floyd’s) life,” says Clay.
Congressman Clay, a senior member of the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, is calling on the Justice Department to investigate the Minneapolis Police Department. He wants to see a sweeping consent decree, similar to what happened in Ferguson.
“Unless white America finally sees us and respects us and is willing to mutually recognize our humanity as black people, as much as their own, our country will never heal,” Clay says.
He says the Ferguson consent decree has “totally transformed the local government and the police department” there.
Congressman Clay is extending his condolences to George Floyd’s family.
“It’s clear that he was a beloved man who lived his life for others,” says Clay.
During his remarks at the former Jamestown Mall site, Congressman Clay also spoke directly to what he describes as “my white allies in the progressive movement, who regularly expect black leaders to stand with you to advance your core agenda.”
“Will you stand with us now, will you make a difference in this country and face this evil in its entirety?”, Clay asks.
Florissant is near Ferguson, which was the site of the Michael Brown incident in August 2014.
Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., traveled to Minnesota this weekend to show support for the community there. He tells our sister network, the Minnesota News Network, that what’s happening in Minneapolis reminds him of what happened to his son.
18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot during a confrontation with then-Ferguson officer Darren Wilson. The Obama Justice Department cleared the officer of criminal wrongdoing, and a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict him.
Meantime, things turned violent this weekend in Ferguson. The “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” reports protesters launched fireworks at officers, smashed windows to Ferguson police headquarters and looted a beauty supply store.
The “Post” reports police deployed tear gas, in response.
Across the state in Kansas City, the Kansas City Police Department says it made 85 arrests Saturday night, after significant damage to businesses on the Plaza.
“Nearly all officers hit with frozen water bottles or rocks. Two officers hospitalized from being struck, one with an injury to the temple and one with a lacerated liver,” Kansas City Police tweeted Sunday.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) has activated the Missouri National Guard, and has signed an executive order declaring that a state of emergency exists in Missouri, due to civil unrest.
The governor says citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and to protest.
“Violence and destruction are not the answers. I support those who are calling for justice and peace. However, a small element has seized on these peaceful demonstrations to commit violent acts that endanger the lives of citizens and bring destruction to our communities,” Governor Parson said in a written statement Saturday night.
Click here to listen to the full five-minute speech from U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, which took place on May 30, 2020 at Jamestown Mall in Florissant. The audio is courtesy of Congressman Clay’s Facebook page:
Copyright © 2020 · Missourinet
A former Missouri state senator and representative who championed disability rights has died, after suffering a heart attack.
Former State Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, died this morning at the age of 55, according to his wife, Kate. She posted on Facebook that he died at home, after suffering what’s believed to be a massive heart attack.
Graham served 12 years in the Missouri Legislature: eight in the House and four in the Senate.
Graham was first elected to the House in 1996 and served four terms. He was forced out by term limits, and ran for an open Missouri Senate seat in 2004. The incumbent that year, former State Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, was term-limited as well. Graham won the 2004 race and served one term, losing a 2008 re-election bid to Columbia Republican Kurt Schaefer.
The top issue that Graham championed in both chambers was disability rights. Graham, who used a wheelchair, emphasized the importance of job opportunities for disabled residents in his district, and across the state.
Graham successfully led the bipartisan legislative effort in 2001 to obtain money for construction for a new Mizzou basketball arena in Columbia. Graham’s legislation provided $35 million in revenue bonds for construction of the new arena, which replaced the Hearnes Center as the home for Tiger men’s and women’s basketball.
Political figures on both sides of the aisle have been praising Graham’s service and focus on disability rights.
U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, who served with Graham in the Legislature for four years, tweeted today that Graham was a “great Missouri Democrat, and even a better man. Proud to call him my friend. He will be deeply missed.”
Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, who now holds the Senate seat Graham once did, tweeted his condolences as well.
“Chuck served our community in a number of meaningful ways while always staying focused on protecting our community’s most vulnerable citizens. His passion to help those in need serves as a reminder and motivation to each of us. I will be praying for his family as they mourn his passing,” Rowden tweets.
Rowden tells Missourinet that he and Graham talked numerous times in various settings. Rowden notes that Graham moderated a few disability-themed forums, when Rowden ran for the Missouri House and Senate.
Former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) praises Graham too. She served as the Missouri state auditor for eight of the years that Graham served in the Legislature.
“A fearless advocate for stem cell research, mental health coverage, and for those with disabilities,” McCaskill tweeted Wednesday.
Copyright © 2020 · Missourinet
Missouri’s senior Democrat in Congress is seeking his 11th term on Capitol Hill. U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, traveled to Jefferson City earlier this week to file for re-election.
Clay, who’s a dean in Missouri’s congressional delegation, chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance. He’s also a senior member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Congressman Clay’s top priority in 2020 is combating gun violence in urban and suburban areas. He’s watching presidential candidates and others closely.
“What kind of firearm policies do you believe in, which firearm policies will you be promoting,” Clay says.
Clay represents St. Louis City and parts of St. Louis County in Congress. There were 194 homicides in St. Louis in 2019, including the shooting deaths of at least 13 children.
A recent study published by “USA Today” listed St. Louis as the 5th most dangerous city in America.
While Congressman Clay continues to support criminal justice reform, he’s also focused on crime victims and witnesses. He tells Missourinet he’s working with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell to help them enhance a witness protection program.
“If it means that they need a budget item, a line-item, to actually protect these witnesses more, to maybe move them out of town, before a trial,” says Clay.
There have been teen witnesses to St. Louis homicides in recent years who have been killed, before they could testify.
That includes the highly-publicized “St. Louis murder mom” conspiracy case. The “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” reported this month that 23-year-old Tyrell Davidson was sentenced to 12 years in prison for second degree murder, for that case.
In exchange for that guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed first degree murder and witness tampering charges against Davidson.
Congressman Clay is calling for tougher criminal penalties for witness intimidation.
“And that would better protect these witnesses, will probably get them to come forward and to testify and to get these bad guys off the street,” Clay says.
This past weekend in Clay’s district, kindergartner David Birchfield III was shot to death when a gunman shot into his car. David, who was six, was killed. His nine-year-old sister was also shot.
Clay is also focused on economic development and jobs, including the NGA project, which he notes is the largest single federal government investment in St. Louis history.
“Welcome to a historic day at the corner of Jefferson and Cass,” Clay said at the November groundbreaking ceremony. It’s a $1.7 billion project.
Clay was first elected to Congress in 2000. He won re-election in 2018, beating Republican Robert Vroman with about 80 percent of the vote.
Northwoods Democrat Cori Bush has filed to challenge Clay in the Democratic primary. No Republicans have filed yet.
The last day to file is March 31.
Click here to listen to the full four-minute interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, which was recorded on February 25, 2020 at the Kirkpatrick Building in Jefferson City:
Copyright © 2020 · Missourinet
Noting that the U.S. Census Bureau is short of workers, U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, and the bureau are hosting a job fair Saturday afternoon at Harris-Stowe State University.
Congressman Clay, a senior member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, says the job fair is aimed at helping St. Louis get a complete count.
Saturday afternoon’s job fair is from 1-3 at Harris-Stowe, inside the William L. Clay Early Childhood Center on North Compton.
The Census Bureau conducts the Census every ten years. The Census determines federal funding and also determines congressional maps, with population shifts. The 2010 Census essentially eliminated then-U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan’s district.
Clay notes more than $650 million in federal funding is annually allocated by the census data.
The bureau is actively seeking to hire neighborhood workers, and the Census jobs pay more than $20 per hour.
Congressman Clay describes the positions as the “best part-time job in America.”
“Not only are you earning good money, you’re helping our community get its fair share of federal funding and political representation at all levels,” Clay says.
2020 Census job applicants must be at least 18, have a valid Social Security number, be a U.S. citizen, have a valid e-mail address and be able to speak and write in English.
They also must undergo fingerprinting and pass a criminal background check. They also need access to a computer with internet and an e-mail account.
Copyright © 2020 · Missourinet
An extension of bipartisan legislation involving fentanyl has been signed into law by President Trump. Supporters say the legislation will decrease the number of opioid-related deaths.
Longtime Poplar Bluff Police Chief Danny Whiteley had been calling on Congress to approve the extension. The chief was a special guest of U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, at last week’s State of the Union Address in Washington.
“He (Chief Whiteley) is an individual that I rely on heavily for his advice, his expertise, because he’s been combating this for over two decades as the police chief there in Poplar Bluff, Missouri,” Smith says.
Congressman Smith voted for the extension. Poplar Bluff is located in southeast Missouri’s Butler County, which has seen 19 opioid-related deaths in the past two years.
Chief Whiteley tells Missourinet Cape Girardeau television partner KFVS that the majority of fentanyl and heroin in the Poplar Bluff area is coming from St. Louis.
As for the State of the Union Address, Congressman Smith says it’s one of the best speeches he’s heard the president deliver. Smith, who represents 30 southern Missouri counties, says America’s economy is booming and that the middle class is thriving. He credits President Trump for what he describes as America’s comeback.
“We have seven million new jobs that’s been created, 56,000 new jobs just in the state of Missouri under his presidency,” says Smith.
The White House says 11,000 of those new Missouri jobs involve manufacturing and that real median Missouri household incomes are up eight percent under the president, at $57,000.
Smith is the GOP Conference Secretary on Capitol Hill. His district includes Cape Girardeau, Kennett, Rolla and West Plains.
Not everyone in Missouri’s congressional delegation agrees with Smith.
U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, sees the economy differently. Clay, who’s a dean in Missouri’s congressional delegation, is critical of President Trump and his proposed budget, saying it includes a $182 billion cut to the federal food stamp program. It’s known as SNAP.
Congressman Clay says the president is not lifting people off food stamps, but is “kicking them off.” Clay describes the president’s budget as “an assault on working families.”
Congressman Smith also wants Congress to focus this year on lowering prescription drug costs and addressing the mental health crisis.
Smith is also pleased with another part of the State of the Union: President Trump awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to national talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who’s from Cape Girardeau.
Smith says it’s special for southeast Missourians, noting the award is the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“His family lives in Cape Girardeau, his brother, his nephews, his cousins,” Smith says. “I mean, he’s from southeast Missouri.”
The 69-year-old Limbaugh announced last week that he’s starting treatment for lung cancer, saying he’s been diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease.
Limbaugh was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 2012.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, which was recorded on February 6, 2020:
Copyright © 2020 · Missourinet
The U.S. Senate is expected to hold an up-or-down vote Friday afternoon in Washington, on whether to call witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R), who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke to Missourinet’s Ashley Byrd on Thursday about the impeachment trial, and about Friday’s big day on Capitol Hill.
Hawley opposes hearing testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton.
“I don’t see any reason to hear from John Bolton, my view is this: I don’t think we need to hear from any of these people,” Hawley says. “We already have all of the House’s evidence in the record before us, that includes 17 witnesses and their testimony from the House.”
Hawley will vote against calling witnesses, in Friday’s vote. However, he says if the Senate calls witnesses, he has motions ready to call former Vice President Joe Biden (D) and his son, Hunter.
“I’ve consistently said I think for months now that if the Senate does call witnesses, I absolutely want to hear from Hunter Biden. And not just Hunter Biden, I want to hear from Joe Biden, I think he’s absolutely relevant,” says Hawley.
Hawley also wants to hear from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, saying he wants to know what Schiff told the whistleblower.
Senate Democrats want to hear from Bolton, on the allegation that President Trump withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.
Hawley says President Trump did not commit bribery nor extortion, adding that nothing Bolton says will change that.
As for Chairman Schiff, he tweeted late Thursday: “The President’s lawyers argue on the Senate floor that he can withhold aid, coerce an ally, and try to cheat in an election, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Our Founders would be aghast.”
Hawley also says the president has not been given the same rights that previous presidents have been given, in impeachment trials. He says President Trump was not given an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.
“And it’s the first impeachment of a president in our history that alleges zero criminal or unlawful conduct, zero,” Hawley says.
He says the president was not given the ability to participate in depositions.
Senator Hawley says the Senate will hear four hours of arguments on Friday, before the afternoon vote.
Hawley says the Senate has already heard more than 50 hours of arguments, and that he’s been taking notes in multiple notebooks. He says he’s looking forward to voting on Friday.
Missouri’s two U.S. Senators, Hawley and Roy Blunt, are Republicans.
U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, tweeted Thursday night with a hashtag #TrumpIsGuilty. Congressman Clay, who was elected in 2000, is one of the deans of Missouri’s congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, is the other.
Click here to listen to the full six-minute interview between Missourinet’s Ashley Byrd and U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, which was recorded on January 30, 2020:
Copyright © 2020 · Missourinet