Southwest Missouri's Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt received a bit of unwanted national attention this week from the investigative reporting magazine Mother Jones.
In its annual awards for legislators who misuse or abuse their positions, Blunt was a nominee in the category of "The Heidi Fleiss Medal for Congressional Pandering."
Quoting from the magazine, "Rep. Roy Blunt became House majority whip in November 2002; hours later he secretly slipped into the 475-page bill creating the Homeland Security Department a provision benefiting Phillip Morris USA. Blunt's language would have restricted low-cost cigarette sales on the Internet and prosecuted contraband sales. The congressman receives massive donations from Phillip Morris; his son works for Phillip Morris; and he recently married the Washington lobbyist for Phillip Morris. After the outrage was discovered (so outrageous that ethics purist Tom DeLay had the measure stripped), Blunt wailed that cigarette sales are connected to homeland security because Hezbollah has made money by selling discount smokes."
Knowing that Mother Jones has a liberal bent (and there is nothing wrong with that) I decided to research this a bit more. Apparently, this all came out due to a Washington Post investigation in June 2003. After that, I understood why I hadn't heard anything about it. I normally try to keep up on the news, but that was during a time when I was more worried about if I was going to keep my job and if I didn't (which I didn't) was I going to be able to find another job.
Apparently, Blunt's connections with these powerful Washington interests are being used extensively in the state of Missouri...to benefit the blossoming political career of Blunt's son, Secretary of State Matt Blunt, who is running for governor.
"The Hill," a Washington-based newspaper, used Missouri state records to show just how the senior Blunt has been using his position to benefit his son. According to The Hill, "Missouri state records show contributions to Matt Blunt's campaign (for secretary of state in 2002) came from firms and individuals with business pending before Roy Blunt's subcommittees. Although some of the companies have significant interests in the state, others do not.
"Top executives at Freddie Mac, for example, contributed $4,000 to his campaign. On Nov. 6, 2000, Vice President Gary Lanzara and Vice President Leland Brendsel gave $1,000 each. Two weeks later, Freddie Mac lobbyist David Glenn and his wife, Cherie, also contributed $1,000 apiece. (Note: It should be pointed out that $1,000 is the most individuals can contribute under Missouri state law.) Cherie is listed as a homemaker; the couple reside in Great Falls, VA.
"Contributions from telecommunications-related entities accounted for over $10,000. Railway transportation companies also contributed more than $6,000 to Matt Blunt's campaign. John Scruggs, a top lobbyist for Altria, formerly Phillip Morris, contributed $1,000. Other contributions came from companies and executives in- or representatives for- such heavily regulated industries as healthcare, insurance, chemicals and defense technology."
The article continued, "By far, the biggest outside contributors to Matt Blunt's campaign, however, were colleagues of Roy Blunt. Campaign finance documents show 84 House lawmakers made 95 contributions to the secretary of state campaign, totaling more than $65,000.
In the article, Larry Noble of the Center for Responsive Politics, suggests logically that the donations were made, not by a desire to help Matt Blunt, but by a desire to curry favor with his father.
Political experts cited in the article said the out-of-state money that poured into Matt Blunt's campaign coffers was the deciding point in a close race. Without it, the younger Blunt would have lost.
It also appears that Blunt has helped his son, Andy, by helping him land an important post at Phillip Morris.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried stories about this. I don't know about the Kansas City Star. Why didn't we read about any of this in The Joplin Globe?
I'll do a little research into the contributors to Matt Blunt in his campaign for governor and I will post the information when I have it.