Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Which Legan will join Ethics Commission?

The appointment of former representative Ken Legan, R-Halfway, to the Missouri Ethics Commission raises one question...Which Legan will attend the meetings?

Will it be the Ken Legan who favored campaign finance reform in 1991 or the Ken Legan who said it was unconstitutional when a bill favoring it was passed three years later?

Or perhaps it will be the Ken Legan who sponsored the amendment (passed by the House, by the way), which would have sent anyone to jail who dared photograph farm animals.

Or will it be the Ken Legan, who played up to Gov. Bob Holden during his final days in the legislature and was rewarded with a cushy post on the Labor and Industrial Relations Board and increased his state pension by more than $20,000 a year?

It was 16 years ago that Jo Mannies wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Legan's efforts to enact campaign finance reform:

A couple weeks ago, three Republican state representatives - John Hancock of south St. Louis County, Ken Legan of Halfway, Mo., and Beth Long of Lebanon - announced a proposal to impose limits on contributions from individuals and groups.
The proposal also would restrict the number of campaign committees that a candidate can have and would require more detailed public accountings of how campaign money is spent.
To political novices, such rules may mean little. But the bottom line is that, now, Missouri candidates often form several committees - one to take in all the contributions and the others to dole out dollars to favored colleagues.
If you gave money to Candidate X, for example, there's no guarantee that it won't end up in the coffers of Candidate Y - and you wouldn't know a thing about it unless you checked the reports from all of X's committees.
Candidates also are increasingly filing campaign reports that show they gave most of their money to a political consultant, with no accounting of how that consultant spent the money. Critics say that's the best way to cover the tracks for politically damaging expenses - like anonymously printing a mudslinging sheet against an opponent.

Three years later, when the House was attempting to put campaign finance reform in place, Legan had changed his mind, according to an article written by Terry Ganey (now with the Columbia Tribune) and Virginia Young in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

On Friday, lawmakers approved a campaign-finance reform bill that opponents say is unconstitutional because it limits how much can be spent on campaigns. The session was barely over before two Republicans, Ken Legan of Halfway and Beth Long of Lebanon, filed formal constitutional objections to the bill.
"The Supreme Court . . . spelled out very clearly that restricting campaign spending violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Legan said.

Legan saved his best moments for his final year in the state legislature and shortly thereafter. In 2002, he made headlines across the state with his amendment to ban photography of farm animals, as related in this May 16, 2002 Associated Press article:

Taking aim at animal rights activists and undercover reporters, the Missouri House has passed a measure that would make it a crime to take pictures of animals in barns without an owner's permission.
The ban would apply to still or motion pictures of farm animals in barns or other areas where they are housed. Photographers could be sentenced to up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The animal photography measure was added to a larger agriculture bill. It now goes back to the Senate, which on Monday night had added a similar provision to a House-passed bill.
Rep. Ken Legan, who sponsored the House amendment, said he doesn't approve of photographers on a mission to expose the supposed evils of farming. His amendment also would apply to animal-breeding facilities or any place that houses animals for agricultural, business or research purposes.
"They'd like to come in and take pictures and say how bad it is when in actuality (the animals) have never had it so good," Legan said.

As it turned out, it wasn't the animals, but Legan that had it that good, thanks to some help from Gov. Bob Holden, who appointed Legan to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, a final stopping place for state legislators who wanted to boost their pensions. The information on the appointment was provided by Associated Press reporter David Lieb in a Sept. 10, 2004, article:

Republican Sen. Bill Foster of Poplar Bluff was named Thursday by Gov. Bob Holden to the state Labor and Industrial Relations Commission - the same panel that term-limited Democratic Sen. Ken Jacob of Columbia was appointed to last month.
Over the years, the commission has served as a pre-retirement stop for many former lawmakers and state officials. The three-member panel hears appeals on such things as workers' compensation cases, unemployment benefits and crime victims' compensation.
Its members earn about $94,000 a year and are eligible for a richer retirement plan than what is available to most other state workers or lawmakers.
Foster, for example, would have been eligible for a maximum retirement benefit of $18,288 annually based on his 11-plus years in the House and Senate and some previous military experience.
He can receive $47,615 annually in retirement benefits if he remains on the labor commission through Jan. 1, 2007, said Karen Stohlgren, deputy executive director of the Missouri State Employees' Retirement System.
Foster, 57, who had previously decided not to seek re-election to the Senate, said he accepted the commission position not because of the money, but because he is interested in the job.
"As I sat behind a desk running my own business, I dealt with workers' compensation issues and unemployment issues, and as I was mayor of Poplar Bluff, I dealt with prevailing wage issues," an additional item the commission handles, Foster said.
"For a long time, I said I would like to be involved in that process."
Foster resigned his Senate seat Thursday to accept the six-year commission appointment. He replaces Ken Legan, a friend and former Republican House member whose commission term expired in July.
Legan was appointed by Holden in January 2003, replacing commissioner David Klarich, a former Republican senator who had served just six months in the post. Both enriched their retirement plans, and Klarich is now back at the Capitol as a lobbyist.
Legan, 58, immediately becomes eligible for retirement benefits of $47,065 annually, Stohlgren said.
Members of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission qualify for pensions under the Administrative Law Judges and Legal Advisers Retirement Plan. The position is attractive to lawmakers because their years in the Legislature automatically count toward the judicial retirement plan.
Ken Jacob, who served about 22 years in the Legislature, would have been eligible for a maximum state pension of $28,739 annually based on his legislative service. But that immediately spiked to $47,615 when he was appointed to the commission - even if he had served just one day.

Thank God Doug Harpool is alive or he would be rolling over in his grave.

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