Monday, April 26, 2010

A blast from the past: Missouri Speaker of the House Richard strikes a blow for ethics

As Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin, puts the screws to ethics legislation to protect the oversized contributions he and other politicians have been receiving, it seems to be the perfect time to flash back to Richard's first prominent appearances in The Turner Report.

As prefiling for bills for the 2007 legislative session, Richard showed his dedication to ethics and to the needs of his constituents, as I noted in the Dec. 18, 2006, Turner Report:

While some Missouri state representatives have pre-filed one bill after another, Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, has thus far limited his focus to one bill, a shining example of meaningful legislation designed to improve the lot of his constituents.
HB 150 apparently came after a long investigation by Richard into what issues concerned the residents of the district her serves in Jasper and Newton counties> Consider this segment of the bill, which specifies a certain area Richard believes deserves to be exempt from sales tax:

"all purchases of equipment, machinery, materials, supplies, fixtures, and shoes by the owner or operator of a facility used for the sport of bowling where sales tax is collected and remitted on all amounts charged for participation in such sport, including amounts paid for the rental of items used to participate in such sport."

How does this affect Richard? Consider these items from his website:

1991 to present
Full duties with C & N Bowl Corporation.
Additional duties of Vice President and Secretary of C & N Bowl Corporation, Senior Managing Officer responsible for overall activities over five Bowling Centers in two states. Assumed further duties associated with financial side of operations and planning.
Duties were added of Chief Financial Officer of two Joplin, Missouri, locations, Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and two Little Rock, Arkansas bowling locations.
1985 to 1987
Bowling Center Manager of new facility, Carl Richard Bowl East, Joplin.
1978 to 1987
Assistant Financial Officer of C & N Bowl Corporation.
Joined C & N Bowl Corporation as Assistant League Coordinator and Food and Beverage Supervisor.
1965 to 1971
During high school worked in all areas of Bowling Centers including construction, janitorial, maintenance, sales and service; U.S. Post Office, processed mail and unloaded trucks.

Richard has served in various capacities on the Legislative Committee of the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America, including currently serving on that organization's Legislative Committee.

Richard withdrew the bill the following day after he received considerable unfavorable publicity from The Turner Report post.

The following day, Associated Press ran an interview with Richard, in which he explained how it was just a coincidence that his initial legislation for 2007 involved his own business. That was something that had never even occurred to him. He only withdrew the bill so he could wait and see what Gov. Matt Blunt had in mind for tax policy:

Richard said he decided to wait and see what tax policy changes Gov. Matt Blunt proposes next year and determine if his bowling tax break idea fits in.
But he said he sees no problem with proposing a law exempting bowling alley owners from paying state and local sales taxes on purchases for their business even as he runs running a bowling company.
"I guess it indirectly would help me," he said. "I don't care about all that. I'm chair of Economic Development (Committee). Anytime I can help small businesses stay in business, I'm in favor of that. If it turns out to be controversial to keep Mom and Pop doing business, that's OK with me."

Can anyone be surprised that Ron Richard is a roadblock in the way of ethics reform in Missouri?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read a news story on the Missourian website quote "JEFFERSON CITY — Ethics reform legislation was dealt a significant blow on Monday night when the Missouri House Rules Committee voted to block the legislation from reaching the full House."
Speaker Richard is not a member of the committee. Is the Turner Report aware of this? The article did not even mention Ron Richard.