The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 20, 2014

Money to area lawmakers slows down but doesn’t stop

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With the Legislature back in session, the flow of campaign cash to local candidates has slowed. But in this election year, the money did not completely stop.

All members of the local delegation to the Missouri General Assembly are on the ballot this year, but only two lawmakers are facing opposition. That has allowed some lawmakers to use their campaign accounts to help out others facing more challenging electoral fights.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, raised more than $44,000 in the first three months of the year. He has nearly $403,000 in his campaign account, making it one of the largest among state officials and legislative leaders. Richard pulled in $5,000 each from companies such as Emerson, RightCHOICE Managed Care (which is pushing for expansion of the health service statewide), and Students First, an education reform group pushing for legislation this year that, as part of a fix to the school transfers issue, would broaden state law governing charter schools.

Richard also pulled in $5,000 from the Southwest Missouri Leadership Political Action Committee. Nick Myers, a Joplin area accountant, serves as the treasurer for the PAC and for Richard’s own campaign. The PAC did not raise any money during the first quarter, but it has raised money in the past from donors such as Empire District Electric Co. (one of its largest donors) and James Woestman, a Carthage investor and former Carthage mayor.

Richard, who is on the ballot but is facing no opposition, used the first quarter to help out some of his friends who are in competitive races. Richard gave $25,000 to Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, who is being challenged by Democrat Mollie Freebalm. Richard also sent $5,000 to Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, who is running in a closely watched state Senate race against Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, in Jefferson County, which has become increasingly competitive for Republicans in recent years.

Richard, a former Joplin mayor, also was quietly supportive of candidates in the recent Joplin City Council election. Richard contributed $100 to Miranda Lewis’ successful campaign, as well as $300 to Mike Seibert, who won re-election and was recently selected by the council as mayor. Richard contributed $500 to the Joplin Progress Committee, which was formed by the local business community to support candidates.

Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, is facing opposition in November from Democrat Michael Jarrett. Still, Flanigan had a shallow fundraising quarter, raising less than $4,000 for his re-election effort. Half came from Medmax Inc., a national medical group made up of providers of neonatal, maternal-fetal and pediatric physician subspecialty services, and anesthesia services. He also received $500 each from the St. Louis-based agricultural technologies company Monsanto and Charter Communications.

Flanigan, who is in line to be the next chairman of the House Budget Committee, contributed $5,000 to the House Republican Campaign Committee — a step often taken by lawmakers hoping to receive chairmanships after the next election. The chair’s current occupant, Rick Stream, R-St. Louis, is not running for re-election, but he is in a tough race for the position of St. Louis County executive. Flanigan sent $5,000 to Stream to assist his campaign effort.

Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, raised $6,000 in the first quarter. Of that, $5,000 was from Childress Royalty Co., an oil royalty company. Davis, who sits on the House Utilities Committee, received $500 from Ameren Missouri, a utility company that serves much of western and mid-Missouri.

Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, who is being challenged in November by Democrat Charles Shields, raised nothing in the first quarter. Nonetheless, he already has more than $20,000 available for November.

Other members of the delegation who are unopposed — Reps. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho; Bill Lant, R-Pineville; and Mike Kelley, R-Lamar — reported only minor changes in the first quarter.

Neither Jarrett, challenging Flanigan, nor Shields, challenging White, has formed a campaign committee. With the exception of support from an outside group, campaign committees are necessary to fund essentially any campaign expense, including running television ads, printing campaign literature and buying campaign signs.

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