Tuesday, January 03, 2006
More about Gary Nodler and ethics
When I am wrong, I will readily admit it, as I was earlier when I wrote that Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, did not meet with Moark expansion opponents. Though it appears he did his level best to avoid meeting with representatives of Southwest Missouri Citizens Against Moark Expansion (SWMCALME), he finally met with several members of the group Wednesday, July 20, following a Neosho Lions Club luncheon in the Neosho Municipal Auditorium.
A transcript of that meeting shows Nodler saying, "Ethical rules of the state of Missouri prevent me from attempting to influence the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) on regulatory procedures. In fact, it would probably be a violation of federal integrity laws if I interfered with their regulatory process. I wouldn't do that and not only does the law say that, but it would be unethical for me to do that."
The transcript does not indicate that Nodler told the Moark opponents that only six days earlier his campaign committee accepted a maximum $600 contribution from N.B. Inc., of Neosho, because he failed to mention that fact. The phone book does not list an N. B. Inc., in Neosho, but the address listed for the company, 1100 Blair Avenue, is where Moark's Neosho office is located as the accompanying photo from the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce 2006 Business Directory shows. (Note: As a reader points out, the N. B. is Nutra Blend, a fully owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes, Moark's parent company.)
This was not the first contribution Nodler had received from N. B. Inc. Missouri Ethics Commission records show that on Sept. 10, 2001, N. B., contributed $550 to Nodler's 2002 senatorial campaign. During that same election cycle, he received a $500 contribution from the Poultry Federation of Missouri, and $200 from Moark official Hollis Osborne.
One of the early contributors to the Nodler Leadership PAC when it was formed in 2003 was Moark official Jerry Wells, who gave $1,000.
Wells has also been spreading around money during the past few months, as noted in the Nov. 13 Turner Report. On the same day, May 23, that more than 300 people filed into the Neosho Municipal Auditorium to discuss the impact of Moark's proposed expansion of its Neosho facilities, Wells contributed the maximum $1,200 to Governor Matt Blunt's campaign committee. It also appears that Wells' generosity received a payback in the form of a private audience with the governor at the height of the Moark controversy.
During his July 20 meeting with the Moark opposition group, Nodler confirmed the one-on-one session between Wells and the governor, but insisted it had nothing to do with the Neosho expansion.
According to the transcript, Nodler said, "I know all about Jerry Wells' meeting with the governor and it has nothing to do with this issue at all. His meeting with the governor had to do with the realignment of administrative largesses at the Department of Labor after the last changes in worker's compensation."
Later, documents obtained by the Moark opposition group under the Freedom of Information Act indicate the senator arranged for a meeting between Wells and DNR officials, and not to talk about administrative largesses at the DNR.
Though Nodler made no offer to help the constituents from his hometown who were opposing the expansion to gain an audience with officials from the state agency, he apparently went out of his way to accommodate Wells and Moark.
According to the e-mail sent by DNR Director Doyle Childers to one of his subordinates, "Sen. Nodler asked that DNR meet with Mr. Wells, saying that this meeting is not an attempt to influence but to discuss approval process timeline and when they might know and what to expect."
During Nodler's meeting with the Moark opponents, the transcript indicates he told them, "I not only represent you all, but I also represent Moark. They're constituents in my district. They are as entitled to representation from me as you are and they will receive equal representation as you do."