Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nodler addresses Sinquefield contributions

The Joplin Globe's weekly columns on money in politics have not been particularly impressive to this point, but that changes with reporter Joe Hadsall's latest offering.

In his column, Hadsall puts Sen. Gary Nodler on the record concerning his acceptance of nearly $10,000 in contributions from billionaire Rex Sinquefield's political action committees:

In that January column, I reported that Nodler, who is chair of the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, and speaker-elect Rep. Ron Richard, also a Joplin Republican, said they favored bringing such voucher bills up for debate. The crux was that both legislators held that view before the formation of Sinquefield’s committees.

On the phone, Nodler said he knew why he was receiving money from the groups, even though he already demonstrated sympathy for the issue.

“I suspect those donations are related to your column,” he said.

Those donations showed up in Nodler’s April committee report, as he said they would: He reported $9,750 in donations from Sinquefield’s groups Missourians Supporting Teaching Excellence and Your School Your Choice.

Of the 18 donors listed in his April report, 15 of them are regional branches of those two groups.

At the conclusion of the column, Hadsall makes a point that hopefully will keep Hadsall, the Globe, and other members of the media watchful in the coming months:

Is it any wonder that average citizens, without hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in government, might feel they have no voice at all in how their state is run? The notion that a retired billionaire, who thinks the state should use our money for private schools, can buy public policy should shake us all to the core.

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