Sunday, April 19, 2009

Post-Dispatch editorial: Missouri legislators want to keep things sleazy

Speaker of the House Ron Richard appears to be the top target in an editorial in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch decrying the lack of action on ethics reform proposals during the 2009 legislative session:

Our friends at The Kansas City Star asked House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, why he wasn't interested in any of the 18 bills kicking around the Legislature that would reform campaign financing or government ethics. Mr. Richard said the House was too busy to take up ethics reform. Besides, he said, the Senate wasn't interested.

"I don't need to make a statement just to butter up the press on ethics when it's not going to make it any farther than this," he said.

The editorial concludes with this note on the Missouri pay-to-play scandal:

One beneficiary of Missouri's laughable ethics laws is Mr. Richard's legislative director, Thomas W. Smith Jr. of St. Charles. As The Star reported last week, Mr. Smith, 34, is paid $64,000 a year for his efforts, but it's his side job that is raising eyebrows. He runs a "political consulting" firm that last year generated nearly $500,000 in income. He also runs several political committee money laundromats from an office in St. Charles.

The last speaker of the Missouri House, Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, ran his own political consulting business. This year it's only the speaker's top aide. Perhaps this is "reform."

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