While I have been appreciative of the levelheaded fairminded attitude Tony Messenger has brought to his new position as Springfield News-Leader editorial page editor, I have to disagree with his take on this week's New York Times column criticizing Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt.
Messenger claims some of the criticisms of the congressman are "old news" and that Blunt's personal life, in other words his divorce and marriage to a powerful Phillip Morris lobbyist, are not proper areas for criticism.
This argument that Blunt's private life should remain just that is one with which I would normally agree, but not in this case. Altria (the Phillip Morris company) and its subsidiaries have poured considerable money into Missouri political races and into Congressman Blunt's campaign coffers, as well as putting money into Blunt's "Rely on Your Beliefs" fund, which has sent money to Republicans across the nation (including to such notables as Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, and Mark Foley). In just the past few months, the clients of Mrs. Blunt and Blunt's son, Andrew, have steered more than $100,000 into the Seventh District Congressional Committee.
This is all in public records, there for anyone to obtain, but the simple fact is most people do not take the time or the effort to obtain them, and they should not have to be doing so.
The media claims that it is in the business of representing the people, yet as far as I can recall, I never read anything about Roy Blunt's second marriage in either the Joplin Globe or the Springfield News-Leader at the time when it was happening.
I do not recall reading anything in either of this region's two major newspapers about Blunt's secretive unsuccessful attempt to slip a provision into the Homeland Security Act dealing with contraband cigarettes, a provision which I might add would greatly benefit his wife's client.
I do not recall reading in either of those newspapers that the Rely on Your Beliefs fund contributed $12,000 to DeLay's defense fund.
I have no problem with our area newspapers proclaiming the funding that Blunt has brought to the Seventh District, but they also have the responsibility of giving full disclosure about the congressman's activities.
Tony Messenger's mention of the New York Times column is a commendable step in the right direction, but he needs to re-examine his thinking about Blunt and his wife. Roy Blunt's second marriage and his K Street activities have had a dramatic impact in Washington and in Missouri.