Earlier this evening, the Turner Report noted that one of the Commission's three choices, former Sen. Gary Nodler, was the recipient of nearly $10,000 in campaign contributions from those who signed petitions received by the commissioners June 4 asking them to fill the board vacancies.
A small percentage of people can afford to contribute to political campaigns or contribute to the organization, the Joplin Progress Committee, that has made it clear its objective is to maintain the same direction for the city and the school district that was set by former City Manager Mark Rohr and departing Superintendent C. J. Huff.
The petitions include the names of nine heavy hitters plus blogger and frequent Joplin Globe guest columnist Anson Burlingame who have contributed to the Joplin Progress Committee. The petitions were also signed by the spouses of two of those on the list. The Turner Report obtained the petitions through a Sunshine Law request . Missouri Ethics Commission records show the following contributed to the Progress Committee:
Henry Robertson Jr. $850
Cynthia Schwab $1,250
Sara Newman $850
Michael Pence $250
Joy Cragin $25
Leland Browne $25
Gwen Delano $100
Robert Willcoxon $500
James Hicklin $750
Anson Burlingame $10
During the 2014 board race, the committee endorsed incumbents Jeff Flowers and Randy Steele, plus newcomers Lynda Banwart, Shawn McGrew, and Jeff Koch, providing money to all of those candidates, except Koch, who did not accept contributions.
This year, the committee endorsed Board President Anne Sharp, Nancy Good, and Lane Roberts.
One person who contributed $350 to the Joplin Progress Committee, giving $100 this year and $250 in 2014, did not sign the petition. That person, Empire District Electric Company's chief operating officer for its gas division Ron Gatz, was sworn in as a new R-8 Board of Education member last week.
Just who did the County Commission consult before it made its decision?