Considering that Nodler is this area's voice in the Senate concerning education issues, this is an important news story and I wasted no time writing it and putting it online for readers to see.
Apparently, that philosophy is not shared by those making decisions at the Joplin Globe. The Sinquefield donations were addressed in reporter Joe Hadsall's column in today's Globe. As I noted in a post Saturday, Hadsall's well-written column made a strong concluding point:
"Is it any wonder that average citizens, without hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in government, might feel they have no voice at all in how their state is run? The notion that a retired billionaire, who thinks the state should use our money for private schools, can buy public policy should shake us all to the core.
The knowledge that our own senator has accepted this money, whatever his reason, from Sinquefield, is obviously something that Hadsall considers important, which raises the question- Since it is important and something Joplin Globe readers needed to know, why did Hadsall not reveal the information until three months after he learned it.
In the opening portion of the column, Hadsall writes, "Sen. Gary Nodler called me in mid-January and told me that he received some donations from political groups organized by Rex Sinquefield, the retired financial analyst who made news by creating and funding 100 political action committees.
"Nodler, a Joplin Republican, received the donations after the January reporting deadline, he said. He called to explain why I might see records of those donations elsewhere, before showing up in his committee fund-raising reports."
Obviously, this is something Nodler also realized was big news and he was attempting to fire a pre-emptive strike. Nodler told Hadsall the donations probably came as a result of an earlier column Hadsall wrote in which he quoted Nodler as being favorably inclined toward Sinquefield's efforts to pour his money into pro-voucher candidates. Nodler told Hadsall he held these beliefs before Sinquefield formed his political action committees.
Nodler told the Globe reporter all of this nearly three months ago, so why is today's paper the first time it is being mentioned? From all indications, Hadsall is a reporter who takes his job seriously and does his best to make sure his readers get the news quickly and accurately. So I have a hard time believing it was his decision to hold on to this information. There was no need to wait for the April reports to be posted since Nodler confirmed he had received the contributions.
This smacks of interference from someone further up on the Globe's food chain. Despite the Globe's weekly columns on money in politics, the newspaper is simply not taking the issue seriously. The only other explanation is that Nodler gave Hadsall the information off the record, not to be reported until after the information was posted. If that is the case, that information should have been included in the column.
For every column Joe Hadsall or the other Globe reporters who have participated in this series has written the Globe has missed other stories. It did not examine Rep. Bryan Stevenson's acceptance of $7,500 from Sinquefield for months. It has never examined the voting records of our area's senator and representatives and compared them to the names that are on the campaign disclosure documents.
While Globe reporters and columnists have written from time to time on the meals and gifts area legislators have received from lobbyists, they have not mentioned the bundled contributions the lobbyists have delivered to the legislators' campaigns, something which is far more corrupting to the political process than the $22.60 meal.
After all, how can you flatly say no to a client of the lobbyist who has poured $10,000 into your campaign?
Missourians are already at a disadvantage when it comes to knowing what their elected officials are up to. Campaign contributions are only reported every three months, and lobbyists' gifts are not available on line for one to two months after they are given, meaning the public cannot see in a timely fashion the things that might have influenced how their elected officials voted on critical issues.
This lack of information makes it even more disheartening when a newspaper has valuable newsworthy information and waits three months to publish it. When a newspaper keeps the news under wraps, it is performing a disservice to its readers.