It started with a request for the Missouri Ethics Commission to investigate the awarding of a license office contract to former State Representative Bubs Hohulin, now the Missouri Democratic party is taking things one step further.
The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported today that the Democrats have asked the U. S. Justice Department to investigate Governor Matt Blunt's awarding of license bureau contracts to a number of people connected to U. S. Attorney Todd Graves...the man who investigates wrongdoing in Missouri state government.
Among those receiving contracts, the article said, are the wife and brother-in-law of Graves, contracts that most definitely pose a conflict of interest, according to Corey Dillon, the Democratic Party executive state director. "This raises serious ethical and legal questions concerning Mr. Graves' ability to perform his job, which includes investigating and prosecuting public corruption in federal, state, and local government," Dillon said.
The complaint also points out that offices were awarded to two staff members of Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., Todd Graves' brother.
Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti said, "Common sense says this wouldn't even cross the mind of someone with a shred of integrity."
Of course, the Republicans didn't take the criticism lying down. Blunt's spokesman Spence Jackson told the News-Tribune, "This is just today's installment of the Democratic Party leadership's mindless, automatic, negative opposition. The people that we have named to run these offices are fine, upstanding people."
Another Blunt spokesman, Paul Sloca said, "The Democrats for years abused the fee office system and it's hypocritical for them to play politics with this issue and file a complaint."
Sloca told the News-Tribune that Blunt is confident there are no ethical problems because the people he chooses to operate the fee offices are "contractors not state employees."
So, it appears that the new governor is saying, "you did it so we can do it, too," and "it's not unethical as long as you read the fine print." As far as Governor Blunt is concerned, it's big business as usual.
I read several articles before the election comparing Matt Blunt to former Missouri Governor Kit Bond, who was the youngest man to ever serve in the state's highest office. Well, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen's famous putdown of Dan Quayle, "I remember Kit Bond and you, sir, are no Kit Bond."
With the ineptness which has characterized the first few months of our new governor, he reminds me a lot more of Joe Teasdale and Bob Holden.