The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 8, 2013

Susan Redden: House race attracted money from unions, lawmakers

JOPLIN, Mo. — The stakes were clearly laid out in contributions received by the two candidates who squared off Tuesday in a special election for the 157th District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives.

A big share of the campaign donations received by Republican candidate Mike Moon, who won the Lawrence County race, came from GOP lawmakers apparently looking to maintain the chamber’s veto-proof majority.

And by far the largest donations to Charles Dake, the Democratic candidate, came from unions and related groups looking to blunt threats to organized labor, with right-to-work and similar legislation making its way through the Missouri House.

Most of those measures are coming through the House Workforce Development and Workplace Safety Committee. The chairman is Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville.

The panel last week endorsed by a 7-3 vote a “freedom to work” measure that Lant and other supporters say would protect workers and boost the state’s economy.

Union leaders say right-to-work means “right to work for less,” and Dake made that argument during his campaign, saying pay in Missouri is $5,500 higher than in right-to-work states.

Moon, who won a 59 percent majority on Tuesday, replaces former Rep. Don Ruzicka, also a Republican, who was appointed to the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The race attracted statewide attention and campaign appearances in support of Dake by Attorney General Chris Koster and state Treasurer Clint Zweifel.

House Speaker Tim Jones came to the region to campaign for Moon.

According to a campaign finance report due eight days before the election, Dake had taken in contributions of $43,713 and had spent $31,841. Moon at the same deadline reported contributions of $23,144 and expenditures totaling $16,050.

Reported separately by the House Republican Campaign Committee was $11,583 in advertising purchases on Moon’s behalf.

Labor unions gave Dake at least $19,200 in contributions, according to a campaign report he filed on April 4. That doesn’t count $10,000 in contributions reported after the deadline, including $250 from U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and the remainder from labor organizations.

Of the more than $23,000 in contributions cited by Moon, $11,755 came from GOP lawmakers’ campaign funds, plus $2,000 from other Republican groups.

Among the approximately 25 lawmakers who contributed to Moon were Rep. Bill White, of Joplin, $200; Rep. Jeff Justus, of Branson, $200; and Jones, of Eureka, the House speaker, $500.

Spending overview

In case you ever wondered where state funds come from and how they are spent, a simple overview is contained in a recent publication by the Missouri House Fiscal Review Committee. The chairman is Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage.

According to the committee report, the federal government is Missouri’s primary revenue source, and programs involving health and mental health are the primary recipients of those state funds.

Almost half — 48 percent — of the revenue received to operate state programs comes from the federal government, the committee reported. Other major revenue sources are income tax, 24 percent; sales and use taxes, 12 percent; charges for services, 8 percent; and other taxes, 7 percent.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 41 percent of state spending will go to programs in which spending is overseen by the House Appropriations Committee for Health, Mental Health and Social Services; 29 percent to education; 14 percent to revenue, transportation and economic development programs; 7 percent to general administration; 5 percent to public safety and corrections; and 4 percent to agriculture and natural resources.

SUSAN REDDEN is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-627-7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.

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