Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Highway Patrol pulls over Joplin High School principal for speeding Sunday, third speeding ticket in 5 months

When a Highway Patrol trooper pulled Shane Hopper over for speeding in Pulaski County Sunday, it was not a new experience for the first-year Joplin High School principal.

It was the second time Hopper has been stopped for speeding since the Joplin R-8 Board of Education hired him in June. According to Pulaski County Circuit Court online records, Hopper is charged with going 11 to 15 miles per hour above the speed limit.

It was the fourth time Hopper had been stopped by an officer in four and a half months since he was hired for his new position, in addition to another speeding ticket he received in Barton County a week before he was hired and a traffic violation he received in Callaway County the following day.

Barton County Circuit Court records show Hopper was stopped June 4, pleaded guilty June 22 and paid a $20.50 fine.

Hopper has appealed a speeding ticket he received in August in Newton County, with that case being referred to the Newton County Prosecuting Attorney's office.

(Why I wrote the post on the Joplin High School principal's traffic tickets)

Hopper was stopped October 2 in Wright County, June 5 in Callaway County and June 28 in Pulaski County for failure to properly affix plates, according to online court records.

His record of traffic violations extends over the years, including guilty pleas to other speeding tickets and violations that were amended from the original charges.

Included in those:

*May 3, 2012- Newton County- defective equipment $350 fine

*February 26, 2010- Jasper County- brake violation, $79 fine

*April 30, 2008- Warren County- speeding, 20 miles per hour or more over limit, $455.50 fine.

*January 12, 2006- St. Louis County- speeding, $61.50 fine

*April 16, 2007- St. Louis County- parking in a prohibited zone, fine information not provided

*April 1, 2013- St. Louis County- parking in a prohibited zone, fine information not provided

*January 31, 2008- Phelps County- charge amended to defective muffler, $200 fine

*August 16, 2016- City of Goodman- defective equipment, $142.50 fine

Trial date set in Jalen Vaden murder case

The Jalen Vaden murder case finally has an out-of-county judge, the seventh judge since Vaden was bound over for trial, and as of today it has a trial date.

The case is set for a jury trial beginning April 15 in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin with 10 days set aside, according to online court records. Greene County Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Cordonnier will preside.

A pre-trial motions hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 1.

Vaden, 23, Carl Junction, is charged with second degree murder and felony child abuse in connection with the December 1, 2017 death of three-year-old Jayda Kyle. Vaden was the live-in boyfriend of the child's mother Devyn Kyle.

Jayda Kyle died at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City three days after being abused at her home, according to the probable cause statement.

Parson, state treasurer address budget transparency during press conferece

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Today, Governor Mike Parson held a joint press conference with Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt on the collective efforts in providing taxpayers useful tools to help bring transparency to the state budget.

During the conference, the Governor praised the work that Treasurer Schmitt and State Budget Director Dan Haug are doing using modern technology to allow Missourians the opportunity to see where their tax dollars are being spent.

“Missourians have the right to know how state government is using their tax dollars. Through websites such as the Missouri Budget Explorer program and the Show-Me Checkbook, Treasurer Schmitt and Director Haug have helped increase budget transparency,” said Governor Parson.

“Missourians shouldn’t have to be budget experts to understand what is going on with our state’s revenue. As these programs advance, we will be able to further add transparency that will be able to hold government accountable to the people. I want to thank both Treasurer Schmitt and Director Haug for this common-sense, back-to-basics management.”

One of the past hurdles that many Missourians faced was trying to research and track down public information, including the state budget. Utilizing 21st -Century technology, anyone with internet access will now be able to save time by accessing the Missouri Budget Explorer Program and the Show-Me Checkbook website to better understand Missouri government and its budget.

Missouri Budget Explorer launched in early October, while Show-Me Checkbook launched this past August.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Gov. Parson signs computer science, STEM education bill

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

On Tuesday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed into law House Bill 3 at Grand Center Arts Academy in St. Louis and at Poplar Bluff High School in Poplar Bluff.

Passed during a special legislative session called by the Governor in September, HB 3 deals with computer science, expanding course opportunities for high school students, creating a certification process for teachers, establishing a fund for any future public and private financial support, and developing curriculum standards.

“Improving our workforce is a top priority with this administration, and in order to help move Missouri forward, we need to expand opportunities for our students,” said Governor Parson. “Missouri currently has a high demand in this field, and by signing this bill, our students will be able to get the proper training to succeed in computing jobs. I want to thank Sen. Doug Libla, Rep. Travis Fitzwater, and the entire General Assembly for their dedication over the recent special session.”

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit and handled in the Senate by Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff. The bill received broad public support by a number of business and education organizations from across the state.

"Today, many computer science jobs go unfilled because not enough high school students have been trained for the jobs,” said Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff. “By improving computer science education in the state, we can better prepare our students for the many companies that desire and depend on these skills.”

“If we want to see long-term economic prosperity for our state, it’s critical that we develop a well-trained workforce that is ready and willing to fill jobs in the fastest growing fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” said Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit. “I want to thank the governor and my colleagues in the legislature for supporting this piece of legislation that will allow us to raise awareness of the STEM career paths and open the doors of opportunity for young people in all parts of our state.”

“As previously noted by Governor Parson, we live and work in a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive. We owe it to our students to provide opportunities to explore and learn about this burgeoning field through the application of an online delivery system. By promoting unfettered access to this vital curriculum, we ensure that all students have the tools requisite to their future personal success as well as safeguarding the economic stability of our community, the region, and the state,” said Dr. Scott Dill, Superintendent, Poplar Bluff School District. “We look forward to working with Governor Parson and Senator Libla as we continue to craft new learning opportunities for all students in Missouri.”

“We’d like to thank Gov. Mike Parson for signing this important legislation into law. Missouri employers are facing a substantial shortage of qualified STEM and computer science workers right now,” said Dan Mehan, President/CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “By calling legislators back to Jefferson City for a special session and by signing this new law, Gov. Parson is making workforce a priority in our state. We greatly appreciate this effort to help equip more Missourians with valuable skills that today’s employers need.”

With the signing of House Bill 3, both bills have been completed that were sent to the Governor during special session last month. Governor Parson signed House Bill 2, which expanded treatment courts, last week.

Former Joplin police officer pleads not guilty to child sex charge

Former Joplin police officer Gary McKinney waived the formal reading of his indictment and pleaded not guilty to a sexual exploitation of minors charge during a three-minute hearing this morning in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

McKinney, 43, who also served as an officer with the Webb City and Duquesne police departments and owned Gary McKinney Plumbing in Joplin, is being held without bond as he awaits trial.

In a related case, Anthony Helsel, 31, Joplin, who is also being held without bond an a sexual exploitation of children charge, waived the reading of his indictment and pleaded not guilty.

A scheduling hearing for both men will be held 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, November 6.

The probable cause affidavit alleged McKinney exchanged child pornography with Helsel, had an interest in setting up streaming sex shows involving underage girls and had asked Helsel to provide him with shoes and socks that had been worn by the four-year-old girl whom Helsel allegedly had sex with in some of the pornography he shared with McKinney.

McKinney also expressed an interest in meeting with the four-year-old himself and engaging in a sex act that would involve her feet, according to the detention motion filed by Assistant U. S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller.

Report: Billy Long campaign foots the bill for $1,118 meal at Branson steak house

No trips to Las Vegas this time, but Seventh District Congressman Billy Long's campaign contributors paid for 15 meals worth $2,627.19 during the first 17 days of October, according to the pre-general election report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Most of the money came from three meals recorded on the final two days covered by the report.

The FEC document shows Long's campaign contributors footed the bill for a $1,118,36 meal at the Saltgrass Steak House in Branson.

It is hard to blame Long for selecting the Branson restaurant. After all, its website says Saltgrass Steak House is known for its "great food" and "legendary hospitality."

Saltgrass Steak House's prices indicate that the $1,100 plus total would enable Long to order more than 40 smothered filets, which appear to be the most expensive item on the menu.

Or you could order 50 grilled salmon.

The $1,100 could cover baby back ribs at $21.99 could provide an economical meal for 50 people or even for 10 people who want to eat a lot.

And imagine those doggy bags.

A real deal would be the approximately 80 brisket burgers you could buy for the $1,100.

The Saltgrass Steak House meal took place on Tuesday, October 16. If it took place between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., information that is not included in the FEC report, Long's campaign contributors may have saved money by paying $2 less for draft beer during the restaurant's happy hour.

Or just $3.75 for the house frozen and rocks margaritas (the perfect drink if you's wasting away again in Branson).

The FEC report indicates most of the money spent by the Long campaign on meals was spent during a two-day period, the $1,118 spent at Saltfood Steak House on the 16th. On the following day, the Long campaign spent even more money $1,134.72 at the Capitol Hill Club, though the expense was for two separate meals, one for $924.15 and the other for $220.51.

The report shows Long raised $54,230 during the first 17 days of October and spent $68,530.25, leaving him with $725,609.46 in the bank, which would pay for more than 2,000 celebratory margaritas at the Saltfood Steak House if Long is re-elected next week.

And maybe he could ask some of his supporters to join him.

Monday, October 29, 2018

DeVos dark money group funnels maximum $2,600 contribution to Ben Baker campaign

The name of the biggest contributor to Neosho Mayor Ben Baker's campaign for 160th District State Representative this month does not appear anywhere on his 8-days-before election report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

There is absolutely no doubt that the American Federation for Children, a dark money group launched by the family of U. S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, contributed $2,600 to Baker. The American Federation for Children is a group that supports educational vouchers and the privatization of schools and the weakening of public education.

Only it was done through a middle man, namely the Brush Fires PAC, which has received $83,000 of the $85,000 it has reported this year, and all $40,000 since the primary election from the DeVos group.

The Brush Fires PAC, which lists a Webb City address, made only one contribution, according to its 8-days-before-election filing- the $2,600 contribution to Baker.

Despite the contribution, it appears the Brush Fires PAC and the American Federation for Children must think Baker has the election in the bag. The DeVos group, using Brush Fires as the middle man, spent $10,042.06 for advertising supporting Baker during the final days of Baker's Republican primary campaign against Raleigh Drue Ritter and David Osburn. The money was more than Brush Fires spent on any candidate, including the unsuccessful candidacy of Robert Stokes of Carl Junction.

Though contributions are limited to $2,600, committees can spend any amount they want to support or oppose a candidate or ballot issue.

Unless a last minute buy is forthcoming, which is still possible since the primary buy came less than a week before the election, the DeVos group does not appear to be spending any money on advertising promoting their favored candidate.

Baker is opposed by Neosho businesswoman Angela Thomas, a Democrat, in next Tuesday's election.

The Brush Fires filing shows the PAC is spending $38,000 to support six GOP candidates, with the largest amount, $8,000, supporting the campaigns of Mark Matthieson, Maryland Heights, in the 70th District and Steve Helms, Springfield, in the 135th District.

Though Baker says almost nothing about education on his website.

As a professor and dean of students (Baker is an instructor at Ozark Bible Institute), I understand the importance of a good education. I will fight for excellence in education for all Missouri children.

Baker passed up two recent opportunities to explain his stance on educational issues to the public, failing to show for forums at the Neosho Public Library and Crowder College.

Other contributions to Baker campaign

Baker received $7,620.36 during October and spent $3,541.55, leaving him with $7,596.71 in the bank.

Among his contributors:

Rural Telecommunications PAC $500

Missouri Bankers Association Ozark Region $300

Southwest Missouri Leadership PAC $1,000

Viceroy PAC, St. Louis $200

Randy Brown, Diamond $1,000

Thomas Lake, Twin Oaks Cabinets, Neosho $500

Scott Wade, Certified Express Logistics, Neosho $500

Angela Thomas campaign

Thomas' 8-days-before election report shows she received $5,173.84 in October and spent $3,256.70, leaving her with $4,174.71.

All of her contributions came as a result of an October 20 fund raiser at the Granby Community Center.

Among Thomas' largest contributors:

IBEW Local 53 $1,000

Kent Farnsworth, Neosho $750

Elliott Denniston, Webb City, $634

The Neosho High School athlete and the alleged sex crime that no longer exists in court records

As I was going through my Facebook messages Sunday night, I found one that I had overlooked for  several days because it was not from one my Facebook friends.

She ripped into me for my decision not to mention the name of a Neosho High School senior athlete who was charged with a sex crime when I posted the article October 10.

Though the description that was offered of the alleged offense in the probable cause statement sounded serious enough for it to be considered a felony, one reason that caused me to post it, the teen was charged with a misdemeanor so I omitted his name.

Legally, it would not have been a problem for me if I had identified him. At 17, he was legally an adult in Missouri and was his name was listed in a public record that was available on Newton County Circuit Court online records.

This reader was one of many who criticized my decision and some made good points in favor of printing the young man's name.

Another part of her message bothered me considerably more.

She was convinced that I did not print the young man's name because his alleged victim was a member of a minority group.

Until I read the woman's message, I had no idea the victim was a minority and I would hope Turner Report readers are aware by now, it would not have had made a difference.

This is what I wrote October 10:

An 18-year-old Neosho High School student has been charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse following an incident in which he fondled another student, exposed himself and attempted to force her to perform a sex act on him.

According to the probable cause statement, the incident occurred between 11 and 11:30 p.m. September 8, near the area of the high school parking lot. The young man kept rubbing the victim's buttocks and her genital area though she had told him to stop.

The young man kept trying to convince the victim to perform oral sex on him, according to the statement. Though she told him no, "(he) became somewhat aggressive, grabbing the victim by the back of the head and throat area with both of his hands and forcing the victim's head down near his groin where his exposed penis was over the top of his black Adidas shorts."

The victim was able to avoid contact with the penis, according to the probable cause statement and was able to move to the other side of the vehicle. She asked him to take her to her own vehicle, which he did.

As she was returning to her vehicle, the report said, the young man called out, "Bye, whore. Kidding, love you."

Normally, I would not have known who the alleged victim was at all. Names of victims in all kinds of cases are scrupulously redacted in Missouri judicial records, but for some reason, whether it was a mistake or perhaps misdemeanors are handled differently, the victim's name was in the public record this time.

I have a policy of not mentioning the names of victims and alleged victims of sex crimes, even when I am aware of them. An example is the case of the former Rangeline Sonic supervisor who faces statutory sodomy charges. I know who the alleged victim is in that case because the name was included in the lawsuit against the company, but I did not mention it in the stories on the lawsuit, nor in the articles about the man's court hearings.

When I saw the name this time, I did not look at it as the name of someone from a minority group. I looked on it as the name of a possible victim.

And now, as far as I can determine, either the charge against the young man has been dropped (though charges can always be refiled) or it has been reclassified as some kind of juvenile case and is no longer in the Newton County Circuit Court records.

There are many reasons why the case may have been dropped. There may have been a lack of evidence. Perhaps the girl did not want to testify. Sometimes people change their stories.

Unless the case is refiled, we may not ever learn.

The reactions to the case have been enlightening.

In the "Me, Too" era people are quick to assume that the accused is guilty and while there are few cases of alleged victims lying about being sexually assaulted, it has happened. We are fortunate to no longer live in a time where a rapist could not be convicted unless a third party actually saw him commit the act.

On the other hand, some people were skeptical of the girl's story because they could not believe she had allowed him to drive her back to her car.

I don't know what experiences the people who made those comments have had, but it is easy to say you would not have stayed in the car with the young man if he tried to do that to you. None of us know how we would act in this situation.

Hopefully, we will never have to find out.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Nancy Hughes: Not much to look at

“All those who were in distress or in debt or
discontented gathered around him, and
he became their leader. About four
hundred men were with him.”
I Samuel 22:2 (NIV)

Going to a Christian concert to hear a favorite group can be a fantastic blessing but imagine hearing not one but six Christian groups at one concert! That’s what I got to do several years ago.

Each group’s performance seemed to build the momentum for the next one. The music was spirit-filled and beautiful. The crowd was more than pleased as one group after another took the stage. My friends and I couldn’t help but critique the outfits each group wore.

At that time it was the “in” thing to perform with the same costumes so everyone had color-coordinated outfits. One group even had very similar hair styles. We would watch as each group took its turn setting up the stage with guitars, drums and a piano in preparation for their performance.

They had the “look” of professionals and applause would break out even before they began to sing. Anticipation grew as the last group came on stage to perform.

But acknowledgement from the audience came in the form of gasps followed by whispers. This last group didn’t have color-coordinated outfits or hair styles with each hair perfectly in place.

Instead they had long unruly hair and jeans and wrinkled shirts with rolled up sleeves. Some had t-shirts that weren’t even tucked in! And they had on loafers and tennis shoes with no socks! What in the world was going on?

“Just how good can they be?” one person asked. “They look like a bunch of guys who just met outside and decided to form a group at the last minute. Probably not much to listen to” said another.

In today’s Scripture we read about another group of men who seemed to be thrown together. David became in charge of 400 men who did not appear on the surface to “fit in” with the norm of the day - men who, at first glance, seemed to have nothing going for them except a mountain of problems.

But David looked beyond their appearance, beyond their problems and beneath the surface and made them into what they COULD be: tremendous fighting warriors and a huge reason why David was so successful in the battles he led as Israel’s king.
Tell me something: have you ever felt like those 400 men must have felt? Perhaps no one has taken the time to invest in who you really are and the woman that you desire to become as a child of God.

Maybe they have skimmed the surface and haven’t bothered to see your heart, dismissing you as “not much to look at.”

May I suggest that you ask God to use you in a powerful way for His glory? He delights in His children asking Him for guidance and leadership in their lives and He will answer above and beyond anything you can imagine because He loves you deeply!

Oh, and that last group that performed? The five previous groups together did not compare to the strength and beauty of their combined voices as they praised the Lord in jeans, t-shirts, long hair, tennis shoes and no socks.

R.A.P. it up . . .

Father, please mold me into the Godly woman that you want me to be. Thank you for looking into my heart and desiring to use me for your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Have you ever been treated as though you had nothing to offer the Lord by other Christians?

If so, has this caused you to feel like you have no skills or talents that the Lord can use?


Journal the talents and abilities that you believe you have that the Lord can use.

Spend time in prayer, asking the Lord to guide you to what He wants you to do for Him and listen for His answer.

Power Verses

I Samuel 22:2 (NIV) “All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.”

I Samuel 16:7 (NIV) “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

II Corinthians 10:7 (NIV) “You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he.”

Nancy Hughes' new book, The Journey Continues: Healing From the Heart, a book that features women sharing their own stories about dealing with widowhood, is available now at Amazon.

Kim Frencken: Teacher stress levels rise

Nine out of 10 teachers suffer from high levels of stress. That’s like 90%! Well, it is actually 90%. But can you imagine any other profession with numbers this high? I can. Surgeons.

Think of the responsibility sitting on the shoulders of surgeons. Lawyers. They have the responsibility of making sure that criminals pay for their crimes and innocent people go free. Pharmacists. They have the tremendous responsibility of making sure you get the right medication. Pilots. This should be obvious. They have to safely land the plane.

Teachers don’t seem to be in the same category. Not even close. 

We tie shoes, teach kids to add, subtract, and read. We have every week-end and summer off (Please don’t shoot the sarcastic messenger!). We rarely work nights. We get to give hugs and high fives daily. We have the privilege of teaching tomorrow’s leaders. Stress? That shouldn’t even be on the radar. But. It. Is. In record high numbers. And they only seem to be creeping higher (if that is even possible).

I believe that stress can be attributed to two major factors. Lack of support and lack of discipline. Teachers love their careers. They choose to teach because creating lessons is a welcome challenge, learning continues to intrigue them, and they thrive on building relationships with children. Teaching is a calling. Not a job. Not a way to make a living. Teaching is a choice because there is nothing else they’d rather do.

So, again, if teachers are that passionate about teaching, why the high stress? Imagine trying to accomplish your goal with a new challenge or roadblock every day. That roadblock could be an angry parent, a chronically absent child, a change in testing procedures, a new administrator, a change in school policy, or one of a million factors that can change on a daily basis. And usually do.

Someone once said that teaching was like trying to hit a moving target. That was, and is, so true. 

Teaching isn’t just walking into a classroom with a smile plastered on your face, being greeted by 20 or fewer smiling faces eager to learn, and walking to your car at 3:30 every day. In fact, teaching isn’t that at all. Some days the smile is real and some days fake is all you can manage. You put your game face on and enter the room. 

Most classroom sizes exceed 20 by 5-10 more students and many of our students need basic needs met before they are ready to learn (if they ever become ready to learn). Leaving at 3:30 is a myth. When teachers finally exit the building, they are usually moving slowly under the weight of numerous book bags containing their homework.

Teaching requirements change every time someone in a suit has a brilliant idea (brilliant is a stretch of the imagination). Teachers are rarely, if ever, consulted. We are expected to stop on a dime and do an about face at the whim of someone who has never taught. Sometimes these experts come in the form of something called Parents. Parents like to tell teachers how to do their job. They may not have experience or education, but that doesn't stop them. They feel that their suggestions are a golden nugget to their child’s teacher. Granted, parents do know their child. At home. But kids are different at school. And at school, teachers know kids. 

We are also trained to know how to best teach children. This is when administrative support would be nice. Unfortunately, this is when most of those administrators can eat their before-school-starts-words. 

The words about supporting teachers. Teachers know, in August, that the words are meaningless. They know that when it comes right down to it, they will be left standing on their own. They also know that administrators will be retracting their words about supporting teachers in discipline situations. 

 I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard an administrator say they’ve got my back. What they really mean is my back is a target. Sure, I can send a child to the office and they will talk to the child. But, I can bet my paycheck that the classroom disruption will be back with candy in hand to announce to the class that the principal didn’t do anything. Yes, part of this is false bravado. But part of it is truth. Candy doesn’t lie. Misbehavior is rewarded. Consequences are lacking.

Teachers know that saying something only increases their problems. They’ll earn the label ”Troublemaker” and end up on an island. They know that the problem is not just at their school, but is sweeping across the nation. They know that some years are more stressful than others. They know that administrators come and they go. They know that, in spite of the stress, there is nothing else they can imagine doing. So… teachers silently let their stress levels rise.

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing and information about her educational products, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Bad words I would not let my students write, why memes are worthless and this week's top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts

After reading a couple of selections from my books that were about my days as a classroom teacher in the Joplin R-8 School District this morning at the Writers Faire, my thoughts drifted back to the day at the beginning of each year when I shocked my students by telling them there were certain bad words that I would not allow them to use in their papers.

"And just so you will know what words you are not allowed to use," I always said, "I will write them on the board."

The students looked at me in disbelief.

Every couple of years, someone would say, "You're not going to do that."

I would stare at the student long enough to make him or her uncomfortable, then start writing on the board.

"These are the words I will not allow to be used in my classroom."

The words- "I think," "I believe" "In my opinion,"I know," 

Some students believed I was not being serious. How in the world could they express their opinions if they did not use those words?

I used the same example every year, using the name of one of the students in each class.

"I think Susie is a good student." After a pause, I said, "Susie is a good student.

"Which one is stronger?"

Nearly all of the students agreed the second one was stronger. "When you remove the words 'I think," you are still expressing an opinion, but you are making it sound like a fact."

I never could leave well enough aone. "Besides why should I care what you think."

Some were shocked by those words, though most of the students realized I was not being serious. I would continue my explanation. Again I would use the name of one of my students. "Joe thinks the Eagles are the best team." Why, I would ask the students, should I care what Joe thinks. "Leave off the words 'Joe thinks' and you leave the impression there is no doubt the Eagles are the best team."

A few stubborn students each year would doggedly stick to their belief, that they should be able to use "I think" and the other variations. They always paid for those beliefs.

That annual lesson was one of many memories that came to me after my presentation at the library. Perhaps that was why it popped back into my mind this evening after I angered some of the people on my personal Facebook page and the Inside Joplin Facebook page.

A couple of weeks ago, I told my readers I was considering banning memes in the comments on my posts.

You would have thought I decapitated a smurf.

Over the next couple of weeks, the memes continued so a couple of days ago, I banned them. I was tired of the Trump memes. I was just as tired of the anti-Trump memes. I did not care if they were intended to be funny (most of those weren't), cute, weird, it did not matter, I was tired of people thinking they were being creative and coarsening the conversation with memes that nearly always seemed designed to anger people who do not see things the way the commenter sees them.

The uproar continues on my Facebook page. I was violating their First Amendment rights (I would have to be the government in order to do that.) I was a crybaby. (Apparently, that is because the Trump memes got me upset.) I was an old man who did not realize that young people communicate with memes. 

One woman wrote that I should not have told people I was going to do that. I was just trying to get a reaction.

No, sorry. That is not the case.

Memes are the equivalent of "I think," "I believe" and "in my opinion." They are crutches used to bolster arguments that are always better without them.


Thanks to the people at the Joplin Public Library and the Post Art Library for their hospitality during the Writers Faire today. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Thanks also to those of you who stopped by to say hi. It is great to be able to see old friends and make new ones.


Thanks to those who subscribed to the Turner Report/Inside Joplin this week and those who have made contributions small or large. Next week will mark the five-year anniversary of the launch of the Inside Joplin and Inside Joplin Obituaries blogs. Contributions from readers, in the form of subscriptions, financial donations large or small, spreading the word about the blogs by word of mouth and sharing the posts over social media (and of course, the many news tips readers have provided) have helped this compact news operation to continue to grow. Those wishing to subscribe or make a contribution of any size may do so at the PayPal buttons below or by sending your donation to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO 64801.

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Help support the Turner Report/Inside Joplin by subscribing or contributing using the PayPal buttons below or by sending your contribution of any size, large or small to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt G, Joplin, MO. Thank you.

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McCaskill: Missouri farmers deserve better than uncertainly and lost jobs of Trump Administration's trade war

(From Sen. Claire McCaskill)

"It hurts American manufacturers like us because we're paying a premium and it gives an advantage to all our global competitors."

"Although we're getting offered a band aid package for one year, we would much prefer free trade."

"What I can tell you is that if we don't get immediate relief, we can be shut down in the next 20 to 30 days."
That's what Missouri businesses and farmers have to say about the Administration's trade war.

These tariffs and trade policies have had a crippling effect on Missouri manufacturing and agriculture, putting some companies in an endless loop of red tape and maybe even forcing some to shutter completely -- and I won't stand for it.

We're looking at billions of dollars of losses in Missouri because of this trade war. It's already cost Missouri jobs and hurt our farmers and ranchers -- I just can't understand why we'd dramatically escalate it.

But instead of reversing these policies that hurt American consumers and small businesses, the Administration is selling them out, most recently with another $200 BILLION in tariffs on Chinese goods.

Farmers are getting bailouts instead of access to markets, manufacturers just can't get an answer on applications for exclusions on the products they make (right here in America).

Our manufacturers can outcompete anyone, but right now they're just not getting the level playing field they need to do it.

That's why I wrote to our U.S. Trade Ambassador, asking him why his office is "causing severe damage without providing any opportunity to mitigate the unnecessary economic harm," and it's why I've been holding the Administration's feet to the fire to get answers for Missouri producers.

Missouri farmers and workers deserve better than uncertainty and lost jobs. And I won't stop fighting for them.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Complete video- Final Claire McCaskill-Josh Hawley debate

The accompanying video features the U. S. Senate debate between Sen. Claire McCaskill and Attorney General with reporters from KMBC in Kansas City providing the questions.

Joplin R-8 Board hires four teachers, accepts two resignations, one retirement

During a closed session prior to Tuesday night's regular Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting, the board hired four teacher, accepted two certified resignations and one certified retirement.

The board also hired eight classified employees and 12 substitutes

Certified Employments: Sarah Long, Rachel Rosener, Susannah Watkins, and Kathy Webb

Certified Resignations: Sonni Potts and Andrea James

Certified Retirement: Joyce Gelso


Classified Employments
: Robin Frink, Briley Jones, Tiffini Lee, Smaira Newman, Elizabeth Schmidt, Logan Shinkle, Dorothy Shuter, and Larry Tanner

: Grant Conrad, Julie Pettyjohn, Michael Chang, Mendel Johnson, Shanonn Barr, William Harrington, Evan Malinoswki, Eddie Hardimon, Camille Blake, Shelby Bauer, Caleb Miller, and Cindy Land

Classified Separations
: Tammy Winnett, Rachel Hursch, Jason Vaughn, Felecia Barnes Joseph Doyle, Leslie Liontas, Amanda Salgado, Bruce Stockton, Valerie Barcom, and Sanjuana Varga

The board also approved employment service contracts for the following:

Speech Language Pathologist: Christine Perrey

Behavior Technician: Maddox Hill Center at Crowder College

Hartzler praises Trump efforts to reduce health care costs

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) applauded the Trump Administration’s actions to lower health care costs, citing new U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor rule proposals expanding the usability of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). HRAs allow employees to be reimbursed by their employers for healthcare expenses in a tax-advantaged way. The proposed rule would permit HRAs to reimburse employees for the cost of individual health insurance coverage, which was prohibited by the previous administration.

“Making HRAs more flexible and allowing them to be used to purchase insurance will lower the cost of healthcare services and empower Americans to choose health plans that work for them,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, who has been an advocate for increasing transparency in medical costs. “The need for quality, affordable health care continues to be a leading issue with Missouri families, and this new flexibility will help make healthcare more affordable for the American people” added Hartzler.

The proposed rule is part of the Presidential Executive Order Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States, which was signed on October 12, 2017. This order has been the main tool the Administration has used to lower healthcare costs and increase provider options for the American people. In addition to HRAs, it prioritized expanded access to association health plans (AHPs) and short-term, limited duration insurance (STLDI) plans. Final rules were issued earlier this year on AHPs and STLDIs.

“The AHP rule allows small businesses to band together by geography or industry and create health plans as if they were a single large employer. As many as 4 million people could gain coverage under these new plan offerings in the coming years. Through the STLDI rule, Americans will also have access to short term plans, which will offer even greater flexibility and control over an individual’s healthcare options,” said Hartzler.

For more information on these rules and executive orders, the White House has provided additional details, which can be viewed here.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Arraignment scheduled for former Joplin police officer on child pornography charges

Arraignments are scheduled Tuesday, October 30, at U. S. District Court in Springfield for two Joplin men, including a former Joplin Police Department officer, who face child pornography charges.

The former officer, Gary McKinney, 43, owner of Gary McKinney Plumbing in Joplin, will be arraigned at 10 a.m. with the arraignment for fellow defendant Anthony Helsel, 31, set for 10:30 a.m.

Both men are being held without bond while awaiting trial. A judge sustained Assistant U. S. Attorney Amy Harshad Miller's detention motion, which included the transcript of a chat session in which McKinney described in graphic detail how he would chloroform an underage girl to render her unconscious, "beat the child first thing," hang her from the ceiling and orally sodomize her.

The motion also included information about McKinney's alleged conversations with Helsel, 31, Joplin, who faces child pornography charges and exploiting a child due to an allegation that he had sex with a four-year-old girl.

McKinney expressed an interest in meeting the four-year-old and engaging in a sex act that would involve her feet.

Trial of former North Middle School reading teacher on sex charges may be delayed

The trial of former North Middle School reading teacher Amanda Schweitzer, scheduled to begin in December is likely to be delayed until March.

The attorney for Schweitzer, who is charged with sexually exploiting a minor and transmitting obscene material to another minor, filed a motion in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri today asking for a delay.

The U. S. Attorney's office had no objection, according to the motion.

This is the second time Schweitzer has asked for a delay. The trial was originally scheduled to be held in September.

Federal public defender Ian Lewis explained the need for the delay:

Additional time is needed to conduct critical evaluations of the discovery, relevant guidelines, potential motions to suppress, and to otherwise make a global evaluation of the case and options to resolve this matter.
Schweitzer was indicted in January, charged with sexually exploiting a minor and transmitting obscene material to another minor.

According to the indictment, Schweitzer "used, persuaded, induced, enticed and coerced a minor, John Doe (DOB 2003) to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction" which was then sent to a child born in 2002.

The charges appear to be in connection with an investigation initiated by the Joplin Police Department after it received reports Schweitzer had sent nude photos of herself to three boys, age 14, 14 and 13. It was during that investigation that they came across the evidence indicating Schweitzer had sex with the 13-year-old.

Schweitzer also faces a Jasper County charge of felony statutory rape for allegedly having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old student at her home March 29, 2017. The next hearing in that case is scheduled for October 1.

She is also charged with three felony charges, kidnapping, statutory rape, and statutory sodomy in Newton County for allegedly taking the same 13-year-old boy to the Water's Edge Camp Ground and having sex with him.

Two lawsuits have been filed in Jasper County Circuit Court in connection with the case

Arkansas truck driver arrested at Judy's Truck Stop in Jasper on meth charge sentenced to 10 years

A federal judge sentenced a Rogers, Arkansas trucker to 10 years in prison Monday in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

During a nine-minute hearing, Judge Douglas Harpool also required Phillip Allen Northcutt, 58, to spend five years on supervised probation following his prison term.

Northcutt's crime was spelled out in the plea agreement:

The crime committed by Phillip Allen Northcutt, 58, was spelled out in the plea agreement:

On Saturday, October 22, 2016, at approximately 9:44 p.m., Jasper Police Chief Karr made contact with subjects who had exited a maroon semi with Oregon registration on the middle west end of Judy’s Truck Stop lot, in Jasper, Missouri. 

Chief Karr initiated contact after he had received information from a confidential informant about a semi driver who was transporting a large amount of methamphetamine.

The semi driver, Phillip Northcutt, was delivering a large amount of methamphetamine to a subject in the Jasper area.

After conducting surveillance of Judy’s Truck Stop, Chief Karr observed a tractor-trailer unit matching the description he had been given, then observed the driver of the vehicle, who matched the description of Northcutt.

Chief Karr approached the driver of the semi and introduced himself as a law enforcement officer. The driver confirmed he was Phillip Northcutt. Northcutt told Chief Karr, “I know what you are wanting. It’s in the fridge in the cab. It’s two kilos of ice.”

Northcutt was detained in handcuffs, and Chief Karr read Northcutt Miranda warnings.

Chief Karr questioned Northcutt in reference to the drugs, and Northcutt admitted that he was supposed to be delivering drugs to M.R., who lives near Jasper, Missouri.

Northcutt explained that the amount of money M.R. had would dictate how much methamphetamine Northcutt was going to sell to M.R. Northcutt explained to Chief Karr that he picked up the two kilograms of methamphetamine earlier in the day in Texas. Northcutt gave consent to search the truck.

Barton County Sheriff’s Deputy Toby Luce was on scene to assist. Deputy Luce ran his police service dog around the exterior of the truck, and gave a positive indication for the odor of drugs.

Once the dog was inside the truck, the dog went straight for a small compact refrigerator in the cab. Deputy Luce opened the refrigerator and observed two “bricks” of suspected methamphetamine wrapped in plastic wrap in a shopping bag in the refrigerator.

Chief Karr observed the bricks and estimated that each weighed approximately two pounds. Northcutt told Chief Karr the substance inside was “ice.”

Det. Walker interviewed Northcutt, who stated he picked up the methamphetamine from a Hispanic male who he knew only as “J,” in McAllen, Texas. Northcutt said he had transported 80 pounds of marijuana for “J” about one month earlier. Northcutt said he picked the marijuana up from “J” in McAllen and transported it to Lowell, where “J” met him and took possession of the marijuana.

Hawley campaign e-mail fundraising letter keeps emphasizing Kavanaugh vote

In its latest fundraising pitch, the Josh Hawley campaign reminds supporters of how opponent Claire McCaskill voted on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Senator McCaskill is hoping that you and I will forget how Senate Democrats treated Justice Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. Recently, when asked about the shameful confirmation process, Senator McCaskill said:

“I hope Missourians will notice I stayed out of it.”

Senator McCaskill can't have it both ways. She may try to paint herself as a reasonable moderate, but you and I remember that she allowed her party to create a circus of the Supreme Court confirmation process. When it came time to cast her vote, she voted in lockstep with Chuck Schumer.

If Democrats take back the Senate , they’ll do all they can to get Justice Kavanaugh impeached. There’s only one way to stop them, and that’s by defeating Senator McCaskill.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Turner to speak, sign books at annual Joplin Public Library Writers' Faire

I will be among the writers participating in the second annual Writers' Faire, sponsored by Post Art Library and the Joplin Public Library 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Authors will speak and read selections from their books throughout the day and I will be the first one, kicking off the event at 10 a.m.

During my time, I will share some selections from my books Let Teachers Teach and Classroom Confidential about the years I spent teaching at South and East middle schools in the Joplin R-8 School District.

I will have copies of those books available, as well as my Joplin Tornado books- 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado, Scars from the Tornado: One Year at Joplin East Middle School, and Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption and the Joplin Tornado, my new book Newton County Memories and my novels.

I will also have Turner Report t-shirts available.

McCaskill: Drug company put profits above people's lives

(From Sen. Claire McCaskill)

For almost two years now, I've been digging into the role opioid manufacturers and distributors have played in the opioid epidemic. We've published a series of investigative reports, and last week released the latest one -- and what it shows is shocking.

As NBC News has reported, one physician's assistant prescribed a patient Subsys -- a powerful fentanyl drug -- for her chronic back pain and called it a miracle drug, upping her dosage to SIX TIMES the original amount over only 8 months.

Later, she found out he had received more than $41,000 from the drug's distributor, Insys Therapeutics, to push high doses of Subsys to his patients.

And the report I released suggests that patient wasn't the only one. My staff reviewed 1.6 million pages of internal documents from Insys Therapeutics. And those pages show a jarring pattern -- a corporate strategy -- to boost prescriptions of Subsys in the midst of a massive opioid addiction crisis.

The company took an anything-goes approach to push sales of Subsys higher, funneling money to doctors for speaking events and distorting the doctor-patient relationship by paying sales representatives more for getting physicians to prescribe the highest dose possible (one executive emailed sales reps: "the bigger the script, the more money you make").

I talked to NBC Nightly News about this, and I wanted to make sure you saw the clip:

Insys paid doctors to talk about the company's drug with their colleagues in an effort to increase prescribing.

They gave bonuses to sales reps who pushed the highest strengths of Subsys, and penalized those who failed to generate enough prescriptions.

They leveraged personal relationships between doctors and sales reps.

What united these strategies? As one Insys national sales director wrote in October 2013, "What drives us all? COMPENSATION."

This company put profits above all else to line the pockets of their executives -- and that could have cost people their lives. It's disgusting, unethical, and immoral, and it should be illegal.

Here's the report:

The conclusion of my latest report? "As long as both sales representatives and prescribers have strong financial incentives to boost prescriptions, greed will continue to distort the patient-physician relationship."

I won't stop fighting to fix this,

Governor Parson signs drug treatment court bill in Greene County

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

On Wednesday, October 24, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed into law House Bill 2 in Springfield at the Greene County Historic Courthouse and in Clay County at James S. Rooney Justice Center in Liberty.

Passed during a special legislative session called by the Governor in September, HB 2 is legislation related to drug treatment courts. It will place all treatment courts under one regulatory umbrella and allow jurisdictions that do not have a treatment court to transfer a defendant to a jurisdiction that does. The state commission that oversees treatment courts will also be expanded by two members. The original bill was filed by Representative Kevin Austin, R-Springfield.

During a previous visit to Springfield, Governor Parson said, "The future of Missouri will depend on alternative sentencing. I'm not interested in building any more prisons as Governor of the State of Missouri. I am not. I am more interested in getting people through alternative sentencing and getting them into the workforce."


Judge Peggy Davis, a member of the Greene County Drug Courts Coordinating Commission, said, “We are thrilled Governor Parson is choosing Greene County to sign this important legislation because in this area we are seeing firsthand the real benefits of drug treatment court programs. We are making a real difference with these programs and this legislation is going to continue to help us build on those best practices and work together to achieve the best outcomes.”

Next week, Governor Parson will sign into law House Bill 3, which deals with computer science, expanding course opportunities for high school students, creating a certification process for teachers, establishing a fund for any future public and private financial support, and developing curriculum standards.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Complaint alleges Josh Hawley received illegal almost $1 million contribution from NRA

A complaint filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleges the campaigns of Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley and the National Rifle Association PAC are coordinating illegally, which allowed the NRA to make an illegal in-kind contribution to Hawley of nearly $1 million.

Political action committees are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose a candidate as long as they do not coordinate with the candidate's campaign.

The complaint, filed by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center and Giffords, a gun control group founded by former Sen. Gabby Giffords,  alleges the Hawley campaign and the NRA PAC both employed companies to produce ads for the campaign and for the PAC supporting Hawley with the ads being released on the same day.

There would be nothing wrong with that, except the ads were released by the same person, working for both companies.

The allegations are spelled out in the complaint,:

The NRA-PVF is the National Rifle Association of America’s lobbyist/registrant PAC.3 8. Josh Hawley is a candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Josh Hawley for Senate is his authorized campaign committee. Bradley “Brad” Todd—a partner at the consulting firms OnMessage and Starboard Strategic is Hawley’s campaign consultant.

On October 9, 2018, The Trace reported that the NRA-PVF had been routing its independent expenditures supporting Hawley through Starboard, while Josh Hawley for Senate had been contracting with OnMessage.

OnMessage is a political consulting firm that has performed contracting work for dozens of campaigns and political committees. The Washington Post recently called OnMessage “a powerhouse GOP consulting firm." 

OnMessage was registered in Virginia on April 13, 2005, and was incorporated in Maryland on April 20, 2006. Its website provides detailed information about its staff, past clients, and portfolio of work. In the 2010 election cycle, the NRA-PVF reported paying OnMessage over $4.5 million, primarily for television and radio ad production, including approximately $3.2 million for federal independent expenditures, according to reports filed with the Commission.

In the 2012 election cycle, the NRA-PVF reported paying OnMessage $7.7 million for independent expenditures and $42,866 in other disbursements. All of the independent expenditure payments were for “Advertising Expenses,” and the other disbursements were also for television and radio advertising expenses. 

Also in the 2012 election cycle, the NRA-ILA—a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that describes itself as “the lobbying arm of the NRA,” and which reports independent expenditures to the Commission under ID C9001330117—reported paying OnMessage over $3.5 million for independent expenditures described as “Advertising Expenses.” 

On March 22, 2013, Starboard was incorporated in Virginia by OnMessage officials. The incorporation certificate lists five directors: Brad Todd, Curtis Anderson, Wesley Anderson, Graham Shafer, and Timothy Teepell. At the time, three of those directors—Anderson, Anderson, and Todd—were also directors at OnMessage.

By the following year, 2014, Shafer and Teepell had been added to OnMessage’s board, as was Orrin “Guy” Harrison. Harrison, in turn, was added to Starboard’s board the year after, in 2015. Both Starboard’s and OnMessage’s boards still consist of these same six directors (Anderson, Anderson, Todd, Shafer, Teepell, and Harrison).

Starboard’s registered agent, Craig M. Palik, is also the registered agent for OnMessage Holdings, Inc. According to a recent POLITICO article, “[i]nternal emails indicate executives toggled between roles” at both Starboard and OnMessage, and that “none of Starboard’s partners has publicly affiliated himself with the company; four of them have LinkedIn pages, for instance, and their profiles only mention OnMessage.”

In the 2014 election cycle, the NRA-PVF and the NRA-ILA paid Starboard approximately $20.5 million combined: the NRA-PVF paid Starboard $12.54 million for independent expenditures, and $1.38 million in other disbursements, and the NRA-ILA paid Starboard $6.6 million for independent expenditures.

Neither the NRA-PVF nor NRA-ILA reported any payments to OnMessage during the 2014 cycle. The NRA-PVF reported paying Starboard for expenses related to television, radio, and digital advertising in the 2014 cycle. The address reported for each Starboard disbursement was 705 Melvin Avenue #105 in Annapolis, Maryland, the same address and suite number as OnMessage’s Maryland office.

The NRA-ILA also reported paying Starboard for “Advertising Expenses” in the 2014 cycle. The address reported for each Starboard disbursement was 817 Slaters Lane in Alexandria, Virginia, the same address as OnMessage’s Virginia office. The NRA’s 2014 “focus” included “three major Senate races,” and was aimed at “boosting Republican Senate challengers in Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina,” according to published reports. Reports filed with the Commission show that the NRA-PVF supported candidates in these U.S. Senate races—Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner, and Thom Tillis—with independent expenditures contracted through Starboard. The NRA-ILA also supported two of these candidates—Gardner and Tillis—with independent expenditures contracted through Starboard. At or around the same time, these same three candidates were contracting with OnMessage for advertising and media consulting.

THE The complaint details how the same methods were used to support those candidates that was allegedly used to support the Josh Hawley campaign and that Starboard did not work for any companies other than the ones that were being supported by the NRA.

Politico articles are quoted that indicate there was nothing to suggest that Starboard really exists (as a separate entity) other than some thumb drives with Starboard material.

So far in the 2018 election cycle—specifically, on October 5, 2018 and October 19, 2018— the NRA-PVF has reported $973,411 in payments to Starboard for independent expenditures either supporting Hawley or opposing Claire McCaskill. The NRA-PVF reported paying Starboard at the address 705 Melvin Ave., #105, Annapolis, Maryland, 21401, the same address and suite number as OnMessage’s Maryland office.

Also on October 5, 2018, the date of the NRA-PVF’s first report of independent expenditures to Starboard in the 2018 Missouri U.S. Senate race, the NRA’s lobbying arm, the NRA-ILA, issued a press release announcing the start of a seven-figure ad campaign in the Missouri U.S. Senate race by the NRA-PVF.

The press release included a quote from Cox, who said, “If you value your constitutional right to self-defense, vote Josh Hawley for U.S. Senate,” and a link to the ad itself. As of September 30, 2018, the close of books for the 2018 October quarterly report, Josh Hawley for Senate had reported paying $2.2 million to OnMessage for purposes including “media production,” “web ads,” “political strategy consulting/travel,” and “survey research,”100 at the address 705 Melvin Ave., #105, Annapolis, Maryland, 21401.

Additionally, as of September 30, 2018, Josh Hawley for Senate reported paying $98,967 to an entity called “First Tuesday” for “Communications Consulting,” “Communications Consulting/Travel,” or “Travel,” at the same address as OnMessage, 705 Melvin Ave.Annapolis, Maryland, 21404.

Maryland corporate records do not show any results for registered corporations under the name “First Tuesday,” but Virginia State Corporation Commission records show that an entity called “First Tuesday: The Ballot Initiative Group” is located at 817 Slaters Lane, Alexandria Virginia, the same address as OnMessage’s Virginia office. Its articles of incorporation, dated August 2, 2016, listed the following individuals as directors: Bradley A Todd, Gail Gitcho, Wesley Anderson, Curtis Anderson, and Graham Shafer.

The ads were placed through a company called Red Eagle Media, which has no website,but not surprisingly, has the same address as the other entities.

The complaint alleges the NRA, by coordinating its advertising with the Hawley campaign, is making an in-kind contribution that far exceeds the $2,700 federal limit, appearing to be at least $973,411.