Campaign Finance: freedom to get paid less

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Today at the Missouri Ethics Commission for an entity opposed to organized labor:

C161416 07/17/2017 MISSOURIANS FOR WORKER FREEDOM A New Missouri 6614 Clayton Road #181 Richmond Heights MO 63117 7/17/2017 $250,000.00

[emphasis added]

A New Missouri?

Oh, look:

C161416: Missourians For Worker Freedom
Committee Type: Campaign
7509 Nw Tiffany Springs Parkway Suite 300
Kansas City Mo 64153
Established Date: 12/23/2016
[….]
Information Reported On: 2017 – July Quarterly Report
Beginning Money on Hand $0.00
Monetary Receipts + $0.00
Monetary Expenditures – $0.00
Contributions Made – $0.00
Other Disbursements – $0.00
Subtotal $0.00
Ending Money On Hand $0.00

Now they’re flush with cash.

What are they up to?:

Ballot Measure History
Ballot Measures Election Date Subject Support/Oppose
Right To Work 11/06/2018 Initiative Petition 2018-092 Oppose
Right To Work 11/06/2018 Initiative Petition 2018-102 Oppose
Right To Work 11/06/2018 Initiative Petition Banning Right To Work And/Or Government Union Reform Oppose

And who gave them all that money? From March, in the Kansas City Star:

Nonprofit linked to Missouri governor raises new questions about ‘dark money,’ ethics
By Jason Hancock

JEFFERSON CITY
In the shadow of the Missouri Capitol, just a block from the governor’s mansion, sits the headquarters of a just-started nonprofit called A New Missouri Inc.

Founded by Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign treasurer and housed in a building linked to one of Missouri’s most prolific political donors, the group’s stated purpose is to “promote ideas, policies and/or legislation to create more jobs, higher pay, safer streets, better schools, and more, for all Missourians.”

But its focus will be advocating for the governor and his agenda, a Greitens adviser said this week. And because it’s a nonprofit, A New Missouri can accept unlimited contributions and won’t be required to disclose who is giving it money….

Well.

From $0.00 to $250,000.00 with one contribution – with no way of knowing who actually anted up. “Missourians for worker freedom”? That’s serious fake grassroots.

Previously:

Gov. Eric Greitens (r) thinks you’re a moron (May 23, 2017)

Mix Eric Greitens, ambition, dark money, free speech, strongman rallies and get a toxic mess (June 10, 2017)

Campaign Finance: business as usual

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Yesterday at the Missouri Ethics Commission for the House Republican Campaign Committee:

C091068 07/16/2017 HOUSE REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE, INC Friends Of Robert Cornejo PO Box 346 St Peters MO 63376 7/15/2017 $5,001.00

[emphasis added]

The HRCC will find something to spend it on. Maybe before August 8th.

You think robocalls will ever go out of fashion? Just asking.

What a friend we have in Putin

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In the United State Constitution:

Article VI
….no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

There’s a special election coming up in the 50th Legislative District. This afternoon, from the Executive Director of the Missouri republican Party, attacking the Democratic Party candidate:

Austin Stukins‏ @austinstukins
.@SkeltonFor50 caught spewing communist manifesto. Tried to defend it using the Bible… funny thing is, she’s an agnostic. #blasphemy
4:05 PM – 15 Jul 2017

“Caught”? We never get out of junior high school.

Attacking your political opposition for “spewing” the communist manifesto? Didn’t that kind of language go out with high button shoes? Just asking.

They’re irony challenged, aren’t they?

#blasphemy? Really? Since when did we become a country where it’s accepted practice to question the religious orthodoxy or the religious beliefs of our political opponents?

Roy Blunt thinks the BCRA is just fine, thank you

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I know, I know – it seems like it’s the summer of piling on GOP Senator Roy Blunt. But what can you do with a politician who tries to pretend that policies are nothing more than procedural exercises that parties win or loose, the welfare of everyday citizens, people who depend on him, be damned?

The latest example of Blunt’s approach to legislating is the Senate’s newly reworked version of Trumpcare, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Our Roy thinks that “it’s in the best shape it’s been in so far […] Now that members actually have paper in their hand they can look at what is likely to be very close to the final bill we’ll be voting on and move forward.”

In the best shape it’s been so far. Indeed. And what does “best shape” mean in this context”? Is Blunt really saying that he thinks it’s actually better as a healthcare bill than it was before? Or is he just optimistic about the fact that it’s been taken into back rooms and worked over as fully as is possible in order to buy the votes of craven GOPers who want to have their cake (win their next election) and eat it too (not get primaried)?

My money’s on the second option. Why? Blunt isn’t dumb enough to believe the first.

Today we learn that even insurers who, as a group, have mostly kept quiet on the topic, are appalled at what the GOP is proposing to foist off on Americans as a substitute for the flawed but functional Obamacare. Specifically, the Cruz Amendment, formally known as the Consumer Freedom Option, has them in a tizzy. The Cruz Amendment would permit insurers that sell Obamacare policies to offer plans that don’t conform to the Obamacare standards mandating minimal levels of coverage, including protections for those with preexisting conditions, as long as they include at least one offering that is conformant.

The CEOs of America’s Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association let it all hang out in a letter released today,  the Cruz amendment “is simply unworkable in any form” they write, “and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market.”

The insurers are far from placated by the pretense that the bill would create “high risk pools”:

… We also firmly believe that the dedicated funding included in the bill to address the cost of plans that cover people with pre-existing medical conditions is insufficient and additional funding will not make the provision workable for consumers or taxpayers

As healthy people move to the less-regulated plans, those with significant medical needs will have no choice but to stay in the comprehensive plans, and premiums will skyrocket for people with preexisting conditions. This would especially impact middle-income families that that are not eligible for a tax credit. Taxpayers will pay more to finance federal tax credits for the individuals in comprehensive plans and these costs will continue to increase, even with dedicated funding. Risk adjustment is also critical to making the individual market sustainable, but can only work when there are uniform benefit requirements across the market.

Finally, this provision will lead to far fewer, if any, coverage options for consumers who purchase their plan in the individual market. As a result, millions of more individuals will become uninsured.

But, hey, Roy Blunt thinks that giving goodies to a few moderate Republicans so that they can try to save face with the folks they’re planning to shaft, along with the addition of this Cruz amendment, has insured that the bill’s in the “best shape” ever.

Campaign Finance: it’s in their nature

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Yesterday at the Missouri Ethics Commission for two brand new PACs:

C171144 07/14/2017 Grace River PAC Herzog Contracting 600 South Riverside Road St Joseph MO 64507 6/27/2017 $50,000.00

C171141 07/14/2017 Ridgely PAC Herzog Contracting 600 South Riverside Road St Joseph MO 64507 6/27/2017 $100,000.00

[emphasis added]

Not only do they have the same large dollar contributor, they share the same address:

C171144: Grace River Pac
Committee Type: Political Action
1100 Main St Ste 2700
Kansas City Mo 64105
Established Date: 05/17/2017
[….]
Treasurer
Kristen Blanchard Ansley
Po Box 26777
Kansas City Mo 64196

C171141: Ridgely Pac
Committee Type: Political Action
1100 Main St Ste 2700
Kansas City Mo 64105
Established Date: 05/17/2017
[….]
Deputy Treasurer
Kristen Blanchard Ansley
Po Box 26777
Kansas City Mo 64196

Go figure.

Roy Blunt sees no evil, hears no evil and says nothing of substance about PutinGate

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Senator Roy Blunt (R) is a piece of work.  Donald Trump, the leader of his party, is demonstrably, publicly corrupt, and almost surely owes his slim election victory, at least partly, to the machinations of a hostile and equally corrupt Russian autocrat. Yet now that the evidence of Trump campaign collusion with said autocrat is all but undeniable, thanks to the missteps of president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., Senator Blunt still wants to equivocate.

With a straight face Blunt declares that he believes that the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member, should indeed ” follow wherever the facts take them, including the possible involvement of President Donald Trump’s campaign with the Russian government.” Nothing wrong with that statement in itself, but did you note the use of the qualifier “possible” to weaken its impact? At this stage of the game yet? And he almost immediately qualified his dedication to finding the truth in three ways that, parsed carefully, make it clear that he is not really interested in what Trump actually did or didn’t do:

Roy Blunt sees no evil if it comes wrapped in dollar bills:

First, Blunt asserted that, although the entire situation with its suggestion of unsavory business contacts reeks of ill-gotten gains, money laundering and influence peddling,  “following the money”  should be off limits:

Blunt told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd Wednesday afternoon that the Intelligence committee, which he sits on, shouldn’t examine financial ties between Russian and the Trump campaign organization.

“I wouldn’t think so” said Blunt. “I would think that the intel committee, when we get this more pressing issue of Russian involvement in the election, and any involvement that others had with them, if that turns out to be the case, I thinks that’s got to be the top priority.”

Blunt, evidently, doesn’t think it’s remotely possible that there’s a financial angle to the corruption of our electoral process by Russia, and, if there is, it shouldn’t be of interest to the committee investigating said corruption. Whose leg is Blunt trying to pull anyway? Given his glory days in the House of representatives where he served to great renown as corruption meister, Tom DeLay’s, chief GOP bagman, he surely recognizes the stench that often arises at the intersection of money and power.

It’s now well-established that the powerful President of Russia directed an extensive and sophisticated intervention in the 2016 U.S. election. This intervention was intended to aid the candidacy of Donald Trump, a man who has shown himself willing to use the Presidency to line his own pockets, hides his tax returns, and who, according to all indications, has had shady dealings, likely of a financial nature, with the new, gangster-style Russian oligarchy. Evidently Roy Blunt hasn’t heard of kompromat. Yet Roy Blunt sees no potential in pursuing the financial issues.

Roy Blunt would prefer to hear no evil:

After asserting that exploring the relationship between Trumpian corruption, possible Russian extortion, etc. should be off limits in the Intelligence Committee’s RussiaGate investigation, Blunt managed to declare that he wanted to cut off the information spout that led to the investigation in the  first place:

Blunt wants the committee to expand its inquiry to find out who in the federal government is leaking classified and confidential information to the press.

“It’s within our responsibility as the intel committee in the Senate to look at the leaks, to look at how secure our own national security structure is” Blunt told MSNBC. “That’s probably where we expand to.”

A number of Republicans have accused career government employees of trying to sabotage the Trump presidency with a flood of leaks.

Can  you imagine folks so devoid of a moral center they think that it’s okay to ignore the crime and go after the whistleblowers – no matter that the “presidency” they may be “trying to sabotage” is clearly sinking under the weight of its own corruption and ineptitude? I can. We call them Republicans and that fact goes a long way toward explaining Blunt’s investigative druthers.

Roy Blunt will, though, speak a little backhanded evil :

Blunt was, however, unable to resist indulging in a little Schadenfreude on the topic of Trump, Inc. troubles. The consummate insider just couldn’t resist having a little fun at the expense of the bumbling reality star and his stable of incompetents who are mucking up the business of government after bad-mouthing pros such as Blunt:

Blunt doesn’t think the Trump campaign had the political experience to entertain the notion of collusion. “What you had in the Trump campaign was a candidate who had figured out the exact communicating spot to be with the American people in 2016, and a campaign around him that I was never sure had the capacity to collude with the Republican National Committee, let alone anybody else” said Blunt on MSNBC.

Well of course they  didn’t. That’s why they’re in the hot seat now. The New York Post said it best when it proclaimed in an editorial headline that Donald Trump  Jr. is an idiot. Apropos of which, it’s  clear that Trump Jr. is his father’s son, and that, as far as their team goes, like attracts like. Neither incompetence or stupidity, however, is a defense.

Several commentators have also brought up the lack of a “moral compass” when discussing Trump’s campaign machinations. Perhaps congressmen like Senator Blunt, who clearly understand how huge the stakes are for the country, might be said to lack the same accoutrement as well when they show themselves willing to hedge and deflect serious issues surrounding our openly compromised president in order to preserve the advantages of partisan power

*First two paragraphs revised for stylistic and clarity reasons.

 

 

Talking about health care at Sen. Roy Blunt’s (r) office in Kansas City – July 14, 2017

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Again. Like the last six months.

Again. At noon today over forty constituents showed up at the building entrance for Senator Roy Blunt’s (r) Kansas City office at Tenth and Walnut to express their opposition to Trumpcare.

“Trumpcare costs lives”

Nope. Still no open public town halls in Missouri with Senator Roy Blunt (r).

A healthcare story”

“Healthcare not wealthcare”

Again. Two staffers from Senator Blunt’s (r) office came out to the building entrance to listen and take notes.

Two staffers.

“Listen to us”

There’s a lot of frustration. Speakers asked why Senator Blunt (r) won’t hold an open public town hall or bother to show up at one of these regular events to listen to them. They wonder if their words here today and in the past are even reaching him.

“No to Trumpcare”

That’s a good question.

Previously:

Talking about health care at Sen. Roy Blunt’s (r) office in Kansas City – June 23, 2017 (June 23, 2017)

A Sen. Roy Blunt (r) health care story (June 23, 2017)

Talking about health care at Sen. Roy Blunt’s (r) office in Kansas City – June 23, 2017 – signs of the times (June 24, 2017)

Talking about health care at Sen. Jerry Moran’s (r) office in Olathe, Kansas – June 28, 2017 (June 28, 2017)

Talking about health care at Sen. Jerry Moran’s (r) office in Olathe, Kansas – June 28, 2017 – signs of the times (June 29, 2017)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D): even more town halls (July 5, 2017)

Claire McCaskill Town Hall Meeting in Eldon Missouri – video by Jerry Schmidt (July 5, 2017)

Talking about health care at Sen. Roy Blunt’s (r) office in Kansas City – July 7, 2017 (July 7, 2017)

On Health Care – Claire McCaskill Town Hall Meeting in Eldon Missouri – video by Jerry Schmidt (July 8, 2017)

On our culture (July 8, 2017)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): transgender is the new same sex marriage

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For right wingnuts.

Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) [2016 file photo].

Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) offered an amendment to the defense authorization bill, barring the use of funds for transgender medical treatments:

[….]

Offered by Mrs. Hartzler of Missouri

At the end of subtitle A of title VII, add the following:
SEC. 704. PROHIBITION OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE MEDICAL TREATMENT RELATED TO GENDER TRANSITION.
Funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to provide medical treatment (other than mental health treatment) related to gender transition to a person entitled to medical care under chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code.

Still tilting at those windmills.

The amendment failed:

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 369
 HR 2810      RECORDED VOTE      13-Jul-2017      5:41 PM
      AUTHOR(S):  Hartzler of Missouri Amendment No. 10
      QUESTION:  On Agreeing to the Amendment
[….]
—- AYES    209 —
Graves (MO)
Hartzler
Long
Luetkemeyer
Smith (MO)
Wagner
[….]
—- NOES    214 —
Clay
[….]
—- NOT VOTING    10 —
Cleaver

Previously:

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): just can’t let it go (April 30, 2015)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): Promoting the right wingnut cult of victimhood trumps the Constitution… (September 6, 2015)

Campaign Finance: every little bit adds up

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Today at the Missouri Ethics Commission in support of the initiative to fight “right to get paid less”:

C171127 07/12/2017 We Are Missouri United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, AFL-CIO, CLC 1775 K Street, NW Washington DC 20006 7/11/2017 $75,000.00

C171127 07/12/2017 We Are Missouri IUPAT Political Action Together Political Committee 7234 Parkway Dr Hanover MD 21076 7/11/2017 $34,605.00

[emphasis added]

Organized labor is keeping at it.

Previously:

Campaign Finance: working people (May 23, 2017)

Campaign Finance: fighting right to get paid less (May 31, 2017)

Campaign Finance: more from working people (June 2, 2017)

Campaign Finance: gaining some ground (June 8, 2017)

Campaign Finance: slowly but surely (June 20, 2017)

Campaign Finance: Working people! (June 26, 2017)

Campaign Finance: stepping it up (June 28, 2017)

Campaign Finance: post it (July 6, 2017)

Josh Hawley (r): well, maybe

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The up side is that he can get rid of that Jefferson City apartment.

Josh Hawley (r) [2016 file photo].

This afternoon, via Twitter:

Alexis Levinson‏ @alexis_levinson
Some #MOSen movement: AG Josh Hawley’s camp puts out statement that he talked to VP, giving run “serious consideration”

“Josh spoke to Vice President Pence this weekend and has been getting a great deal of encouragement to run. He is giving the race serious consideration. Josh has also received call from others interested in running and he is letting them know of his decision to consider the race.” – Scott Paradise, Hawley spox

3:59 PM – 11 Jul 2017

Just think about all those open public town halls across the state we can look forward to as he explains to voters why Trumpcare massively cuts Medicaid payments for rural hospitals and nursing homes.

Paul Curtman (r) must be besides himself.

Previously:

Already looking for another job, eh? (January 28, 2017)