What do these items have in common?
-Missouri Governor Matt Blunt returns a campaign contribution from disgraced Florida Congressman Mark Foley.
-State Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, retracts a bill which would have eliminated sales tax on bowling equipment and supplies.
-Gov. Blunt's State Board of Education appointee Donayle Whitmore-Smith has a long pro-voucher history.
-Sen. Gary Nodler is considering a run for statewide office.
-Felony sex charges are brought against leaders of a McDonald County church.
Considering the title for this post, you probably have already guessed what they have in common: All five stories began in The Turner Report and were eventually picked up regionally, statewide, or nationally (in the case of the McDonald County cult story). In fact, all of the stories ran in the last four months.
Unfortunately, there were other stories featured in this blog that should have been picked up by the mainstream media (some were picked up in the blogosphere), but were not.
The readership of the blog continued to grow in 2006. While a few detractors (usually the ones who are most affected by the stories) have continued to deride the blog for having only a handful of readers, the fact is, I have three counter systems (which measures individual visitors and not just hits) on this column and they tell a different story. On two of them, The Turner Report has topped 1,000 readers per day numerous times, while even the most frugal of the counters shows a high of 849 for one day. The frugal counter indicates the blog will have over 50,000 more readers in 2006 than it had in 2005, for an average of more than 100 per day. Obviously, this is nowhere near the amount of readers that, say, the Joplin Globe has. But the readership includes a regular sampling, as you might imagine from media and government circles, and even more importantly from readers who are simply wanting more information than they receive from the usual suspects on what is going on in government and in the judicial system.
Turner Report scoops for the last six months of 2006 include the following:
Dec. 22- A state audit shows the Missouri's attorney general's office is not keeping a close eye on its use of cell phones and Blackberries.
Dec. 20- Joplin Globe Editor Ed Simpson leaves to take a post in the Ohio attorney general's office.
Dec. 19- Ron Richard withdrew his bowling sales tax bill.
Dec. 19- Missouri Ethics Commission documents indicate Sen. Nodler is considering a run for higher office and Tom Flanigan is no longer his treasurer.
Dec. 18- This was the first mention in any media of Richard's bowling sales tax bill.
Dec. 17- Gov. Blunt's first appointment to the State Board of Education, Demi Demien of Wentzville, has numerous ties to voucher supporters.
Dec. 16- The Turner Report so far has been the only source to point out the media's failures in connection with the Anderson Guest House fire.
Dec. 11- Turnaround expert Jim Malone is the new CEO at O'Sullivan Industries. Yes, it came from a barely issued news release, but as far as I can tell, no one else has picked up on it.
Dec. 8- Rep. Steve Hunter collected more than $12,000 in campaign contributions...in the weeks following the election...including a maximum contribution from voucher-supporter group All Children Matter.
Dec. 8- A Turner Report investigation examined State Board of Education appointee Donayle Whitmore-Smith's background.
Dec. 6- Two posts on that day delved more into Ms. Whitmore-Smith's background, including her statement that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have supported vouchers, and another post showing her connection to a who's who in the voucher movement.
Dec. 6- Rep. Richard continues to add to his campaign war chest, including $1,300 from casino interests.
Dec. 4- Sen. Norma Champion, R-Springfield, headed a committee that blocked legislation which could have prevented the Anderson Guest House fire.
Dec. 3- Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, has refiled his bill to force Missouri school districts to start school earlier. The bill has heavy support from Branson tourism interests, who not so coincidentally, have contributed heavily to Goodman's campaign. It never seemed to be a big issue for Sen. Gary Nodler either, but after he came out in favor of the legislation, suddenly he was awash, for the first time, in contributions from those same interests.
Dec. 2- Lauren Hieger leaves KSN to be KODE anchor.
Dec. 1- Former Thomas Jefferson headmaster Dr. Leonard Kupersmith takes a position with a Greenville, S. C. school.
Dec. 1- This blog was the first source to note that Gregory White, the father of the Memorial Middle School shooter, had changed his plea to guilty.
Nov. 27- The Turner Report featured three posts digging deeper into the owner of the Anderson Guest House. In one, a previous fire at a Dupont-owned facility was noted. Another noted the Anderson Guest House had been cited for a Class I violation in August, and the third noted that Dupont was a convicted felon.
Nov. 13- Rep. Steve Hunter closes in on the $4,000 mark in lobbyist gifts for 2006.
Nov. 12- KODE anchor Tara Brown walked out in a dispute over the McDonald County cult story.
Nov. 7- Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, received a maximum contribution from voucher supporter All Children Matter.
Nov. 7- Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, topped the $5,000 mark in lobbyist gifts for 2006.
Nov. 6- The laundry operation was working overtime for State Auditor candidate Sandra Thomas during the final days of the campaign.
Nov. 4- Disgraced Congressman Bob Ney, R-Ohio, was a maximum contributor to Governor Matt Blunt.
Oct. 30- This post featured one of the first examinations of the influence All Children Matter was having in this year's elections.
Oct. 26- This post was the first media source of any kind to note the pro-voucher sympathies of Donayle Whitmore-Smith, Gov. Blunt's appointment to the State Board of Education. No other media outlet made mention of this for more than four weeks.
Oct. 16- Conflicts of interest among contributors to Sandra Thomas' campaign for state auditor were noted.
Oct. 16- Superlobbyist William Gamble's contributions to the reelection campaign of Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, were noted.
Oct. 11- Out-of-district contributors continue to make up the lion's share of Sen. Gary Nodler's campaign donors.
Oct. 5- A state audit blasted the management of the Joplin Regional Center.
Sept. 30- Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., was a maximum contributor to Gov. Blunt's campaign. When other media outlets picked up on this story, Blunt eventually returned the money. Another post the same day detailed Blunt's contributions from Foley, Bob Ney, Tom DeLay, and Donald Sherwood.
Sept. 23- Sen. Norma Champion received a $435 meal from AARP.
Sept. 23- Sen. Delbert Scott received 21 campaign contributions from lobbyists, none of whom were referred to as lobbyists in documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Sept. 23- Columbia Democrat Chuck Graham topped the "Hall of Shame" as the senator who had received the most from lobbyists.
Sept. 21- Grove family dentist and former Lamar resident Dr. Karl Jobst pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, but received no jail time in connection with the drunk driving-related death of his girlfriend in McDonald County.
Sept. 20- Problems with the Jasper County East Landfill near Purcell began when state officials ignored their own regulations.
Sept. 11- A liquor distributor and casino interests were pouring money into Sen. Norma Champion's campaign.
Sept. 10- Sen. Gary Nodler tops area senators in gifts from lobbyists.
Sept. 8- For some reason, the Springfield media outlets have not picked up on the case of a former Missouri State University professor who filed a wrongful dismissal suit against the college and several officials, and accused another professor of sexual harassment. This post featured the revelation that mediation in this case had failed.
Sept. 7- A country singer accused a Branson TV host of sexual harassment in a suit filed in federal court.
Sept. 1- Details of Rep. Steve Hunter and his wife, Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter being wined and dined by Sprint officials were provided.
Aug. 21- Rep. Ed Emery's plea to a charge of driving on the wrong side of a roadway causing an accident was corrected from guilty to an Alford plea.
Aug. 15- It didn't take long for the rest of the media to pick it up on it, but The Turner Report was the first source to note the arrest of leaders of the Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church in McDonald County on felony sex charges.
Aug. 7- Contrary to her statements that she submitted her "frontier justice" bill after hearing concerns from constituents, evidence shows Rep. Marilyn Ruestman's bill was one of 15 cookie-cutter laws across the U. S. being pushed by the National Rifle Association. In other posts, I noted that Ms. Ruestman pays her annual NRA dues with campaign funds.
Aug. 5- Super lobbyist Harry Gallagher found ways to put a considerable amount of money into Sen. John Loudon's state auditor campaign.
Aug. 1- A trip financed by a casino lobbyist helped Rep. Steve Hunter as he neared the $3,000 mark in lobbyist gifts.
Aug. 1- State Auditor candidate Sandra Thomas paid $35,000 to a consulting firm with ties to the license fee offices she would have been required to audit had she been elected.
July 31- State Auditor candidate Jack Jackson paid $258,000 to a consulting firm which also lobbies for Saudi Arabia.
July 30- Rep. Steve Hunter's quarterly disclosure filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission failed to note $15,000 in contributions.
July 29- Sen. Gary Nodler received $2,500 from the Missouri Bankers Association, which worked its way around contribution limits by forming political action committees for each region of the state.
July 29- State Auditor candidate Sandra Thomas paid $21,000 to a consulting firm connected to the awarding of license fee contracts.
July 23- The Turner Report was the first area news source to note that GateHouse Media, owner of The Carthage Press, Joplin Daily, Neosho Daily News, and the Big Nickel, was going public.
July 22- Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, received nearly $3,000 from the nursing home industry, acccording to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.
July 22- The Turner Report was the first to reveal that state representative candidate Steve Helms, R-Springfield, had filed for bankruptcy.
July 21- Rep. Ed Emery pleads guilty (later corrected to an Alford plea) to driving on the wrong side of the roadway, causing an accident. He was placed on probation.
July 15- Sen. Gary Nodler comes out in favor of an early start for Missouri schools and suddenly the big tourism interests in Branson are pouring money into his election campaign. An amazing coincidence.
Those interested in seeing some of the stories broken in the first six months of 2006
can be found in the June 22 Turner Report.