Saturday, June 30, 2007

St. Louis Democrat resigns, wants wife/lobbyist to take his place

Is it any wonder people don't trust politicians?
Today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch features the sordid story of Rep. Fred Kratky, D-St. Louis, who submitted his resignation to Governor Matt Blunt so he could take a position as an executive vice president with the St. Louis Association of Realtors.

Kratky, whose House biography indicates he is a real estate broker, member of the National Association of Realtors, the Missouri and St. Louis Association of Realtors, and has served as president of the Missouri Housing Industry Alliance, already has his House replacement selected. He wants to appoint the woman who has been the lobbyist for his new employer. The woman, who has only been a registered lobbyist since Jan. 3, is Kratky's wife Michele.

Kratky was already representing his new employers during the 2007 House session, according to the list of bills he co-sponsored. As a member of the minority party, Kratky was not likely to get any significant legislation passed for the real estate interests, but he was quick to sign on as a co-sponsor for two Republican bills, both proffered by legislator/real estate agents- neither of which was passed.

HB 310, sponsored by Dennis Wood, R-Kimberling City, who has more than a quarter of a century under his belt as a realtor, would have authorized the Missouri Real Estate Commission to impose civil penalties of up to $2,500 a day, with each day being considered a separate offense, for anyone violating real estate licensing regulations or for people who are selling real estate without a license. I wrote about this bill in the Jan. 11 Turner Report.

HB 324, sponsored by another representative/real estate agent Jason Smith, R-Salem, would have immunized real estate agents who disclosed any information regarding people who are registered sex offenders.

Naturally, Kratky's doors were always open to lobbyists for real estate interests, and I am not just referring to his wife. Missouri Ethics Commission documents indicate Kratky has been the recipient of four meals this year from Samuel Licklider, lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Realtors. Those meals account for $252.14 of the $607.05 Kratky has received in gifts from all lobbyists.

The Post-Dispatch article indicates Kratky should not have any trouble having his lobbyist wife named as his successor:

And Michele Kratky has a built-in advantage in getting her party's nomination to fill the unexpired term. Her husband is one of the Democratic Committee members who would make the call.

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