Monday, October 30, 2006

Blunt-Graves connection works overtime for Thomas

The eight days before election filing by Platte County Auditor Sandra Thomas leaves no doubt just how deeply she is beholden to Governor Matt Blunt and Congressman Sam Graves, who have supported her candidacy from the beginning.
The report, filed today by the Republican state auditor candidate's campaign committee, also featured more evidence that Ms. Thomas would have serious conflicts of interest when it comes to any audits of the Missouri Department of Revenue.
The final page of Ms. Thomas' disclosure report reveals two donations from field coordinators for the Department of Revenue, Josh Judd and Stanley Smith. Their contributions were small, $50 apiece, but another major contributor with a connection to the Department of Revenue was not listed as having a contractual relationship.
On Oct. 25, Ms. Thomas received a maximum contribution, $1,275, from Election Day Enterprises, the political consulting firm run by lobbyist and former state representative Jewell Patek. Print reports have indicated Patek was smack in the middle of the license fee office scandal that led to a federal investigation earlier this year. The lobbyist was pushing Highridge Services, a management firm, to operate the lucrative fee offices.
As I reported in the July 29 Turner Report, Ms. Thomas' campaign has been run by Axiom Strategies, a consulting company owned by former Election Day Enterprises employee, Jeff Roe, who along with Patek, at one time worked for Congressman Sam Graves. Roe is also the author of the conservative blog, The Source.

These are far from the first conflicts of interest Ms. Thomas has had with people connected with the Department of Revenue and the license fee offices. Her October quarterly report showed four maximum $1,275 contributions from contract agents running fee offices, David Jerome, Neosho; Matt Gerstler, St. Joseph, and two from the Nodler Leadership PAC, which is operated by her campaign treasurer Nick Myers, who also runs the license fee office in Joplin. Myers had already contributed $1,275 personally, and $1,275 from his CPA business.

The revenue fee office agents' contributions are not the only conflict of interest evident on Ms. Thomas' disclosure form. She also received a $500 contribution from Gene McNary, St. Louis, who was recently appointed by Governor Matt Blunt to head the Missouri Gaming Commission, which is a state agency which must be audited. More from the October report can be found in the Oct. 16 Turner Report.

The Thomas money trail also leads to Governor Matt Blunt's baby brother, lobbyist Andrew Blunt. Blunt himself contributed $500 on Oct. 20, one week to the day after three of Blunt's clients contributed to Ms. Thomas' campaign. AT&T Missouri Employee PAC donated $1,200, Burlington Northern Railway $500, and Missouri Hospital Association PAC $500. It was noted on the final page of the report that Burlington Northern Railway often does business with the Missouri Department of Transportation, another department that Ms. Thomas will be required to audit if she is elected.

The largest contribution to Ms. Thomas' campaign is the most disturbing one. She received $10,000 Oct. 25 from the 32nd Senatorial District Committee out of Carthage...a committee which 10 days earlier had only $867.46 in its bank account, according to the October quarterly report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Unfortunately, the 32nd District Committee, whose deputy treasurer is Victoria Myers, daughter of Ms. Thomas' campaign treasurer Nick Myers, will not have to file its next report until more than two months after the election is over, so there is no way of knowing just where this money originated.

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