Amid an ongoing controversy over the process he uses to award fee offices, Gov. Jay Nixon brazenly awarded another fee office to Democrat power-player James Montee, ex-husband of State Auditor Susan Montee. Montee’s selection also comes less than two months after he was rewarded with the lucrative Lee’s Summit license office, drawing criticism from at least one prominent newspaper editorial board.
“Jay Nixon is absolutely shameless. Each time Nixon taps another prominent Democrat to run a fee office, his claim to have reformed the system grows weaker,” said Lloyd Smith, Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party. “It is hard to make the case that the new process has had the outcome that the General Assembly intended. Just as before, the most lucrative fee offices in the state continue to be awarded to Nixon donors and influential Democrats. Missourians want results, but as the saying goes, Jay Nixon is all hat and no cattle.”
After Montee defeated three other bidders, including a non-profit that serves battered women and children, for the Lee’s Summit fee office, the St. Joseph News-Press printed an editorial blasting Nixon for failing to avoid the appearance of impropriety: “Ending political patronage in awarding contracts for driver’s license fee offices needs to account for both reality and perceptions… But efficiency in running the office, plans for extended hours and generous sharing of the revenues with the state take no account of whether selecting one applicant over another might look like favoritism. And to say that appearances do not count in this process is to miss much of the point about patronage. Detractors — virtually all of them Republicans — have ample ammunition in criticizing the selection of St. Joseph attorney James Montee to run the Lee’s Summit office with a partner.”
Over the past four years, Montee and his law firm have donated nearly $100,000 to the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Claire McCaskill, Robin Carnahan, Barack Obama, and the Missouri Democratic Party. He was also liable for a $500,000 to his then-wife’s campaign for Auditor. The 27th District Legislative Committee, which is based in one of Montee’s law offices, donated $13,475 to Nixon in 2008.
In addition to his profligate political contributions, James Montee has a history of activism on behalf of the Democratic Party. He was a delegate to the 2004 and 2008 Democrat National Conventions, a former member of the Democratic State Committee, and his law offices have housed various Democratic headquarters, among others.
Even Democrats have cried foul. The selection of another donor to run a separate Kansas City-area fee office prompted a Democratic state representative to reveal Nixon’s true motives: “It’s all politics. Don’t let anyone fool you.”
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Missouri GOP rips awarding of St. Joseph fee office to Montee
It did not take long for the Missouri Republican Party to rip into Gov. Jay Nixon for the Departmtnt of Revenue's decision to award the St. Joseph fee office to attorney James Montee, ex-husband of State Auditor Susan Montee. The following news release was issued today: