Former State Rep. Tom Burcham, R-Farmington, is turning suing cities into a cottage industry, and no one seems to know why. Burcham has been suing cities in which the voters have passed sales taxes, saying the taxes are being illegally stacked. An effort by the self-proclaimed most powerful man in the state of Missouri, Speaker of the House Ron Richard, to make the taxes lawful never came to a vote, thanks to House Majority Leader (and Ethics Committee Chairman) Steve Tilley, who received $110,000 in contributions from Burcham-connected political committees.
Burcham said he is not doing it for the money, and in the towns where he has won, he has donated his money to charity. Burcham claims he is doing it for the taxpayers, but in a February 2008 report, St. Louis television station KMOV reached a different conclusion:
Burcham's contention he was fighting the gallant fight for "the little man" doesn't fit the facts.by small town residents outraged over "illegal" taxes. As Burcham put it, this all started with "table talk" among "lawyers."
As we showed in our report, none of the plaintiffs in Burcham's lawsuits are residents of the targeted cities. The plaintiff in most of the suits is a woman named Tonya Sheets... Burcham's law office secretary. The other plaintiff named in the suit is a woman named Andrea Penberthy. Burcham would only describe Penberthy as "an acquaintance."
In our discussions with the Missouri Municipal League and city leaders in several of the towns named in the lawsuits, we kept hearing the same thing -- the people who actually live in the targeted towns weren't complaining about the sales taxes!
All of these taxes had been placed on the ballot and approved by a vote of the people.
So we continued to press Burcham for answers. Where did the idea for these suits come from? Finally... 36 minutes into our intervew, the truth came out.
Steve Chamraz: "Who are these 'folks'?"
Tom Burcham: "These would be lawyers, city adminstrators and people who are generally concerned with city municipal matters... mainly table talk at seminars and conferences and over the telephone."
So there's your answer.
There is no grassroots movement out there started
Thanks to the intervention of Ethics Committee Chairman Steve Tilley and the impotence of Speaker of the House Ron Richard, Burcham's lawsuits have reached Granby and are headed for Joplin.
And no, Burcham never really answered KMOV's question, Which special interests wants these taxes knocked off the books?