Senators Schaaf and Romine Agree: Greitens' Dark Money is Bad

As the Missouri Legislature gets closer and closer to the end of session, tensions are rising and tempers are getting short, especially when it comes to Gov. Eric Greitens' hypocritical campaign commitment to clean up the corruption in Jefferson City. In case you haven't heard, one of the first things Greitens' advisers did when he became governor was set up a 501(c)4 dark money group that doesn't have to disclose its donors or how much they give. This is, of course, after he's refused to disclose who's behind his single largest campaign contribution, and who gave and how much to his inauguration non-profit.

Now, Greitens is facing push back from members of his own party who are frustrated and disgusted by his reliance on dark money and his refusal to disclose donors.

On Thursday, Republican Senators Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) and Gary Romine (R-Ste. Genevieve) had a back and forth while Schaaf held the floor exploring ethics, campaign finance, and closing the revolving door of legislators becoming lobbyists after they retire or resign. It was clear Romine joined Schaaf in not having much patience for Greitens continuing to hide donors behind a shadowy dark money group that has now taken it upon itself to repeatedly attack other Republicans.

Schaaf: Tell me if I’m wrong, but I just don’t know what our caucus priorities are. Do you know what our caucus priorities are?

Romine: No, I didn’t think this one was, I don’t ever really remember making this a conversation during our caucus meeting that this is a priority.

Schaaf: Is it a caucus priority for us to help Ameren?

Romine: I would hope not. You know when we start catering to a billion dollar industry that has deep pockets that have doled out quite a few..

Schaaf: And their stock is going up and up.

Romine: And their stock is going up…

Schaaf: And they pay their head guy like 6, 8 million dollars a year or something like that…

Romine: You know every member in this body, and even the statewide offices, need to evaluate Ameren’s influence right now.

Schaaf: Is it a caucus priority for us to help Centene, UnitedHealthcare, is that a caucus priority?

Romine: Our caucus priority should be to make sure we have the best available care to our citizens, but it should not be narrowed down to major corporations where the president, CEO is making 22 million dollars a year.

Schaaf: 22 million dollars a year. Is it a caucus priority to help other major entities, like the Chamber of Commerce?

Romine: No, we should be about the entire state, and how it affects the entire state as a balance.

Schaaf: I totally agree senator. And so, I just don’t know what our caucus priorities are. Let me ask you this, should it be a caucus priority to talk about ethics?

Romine: It should be a caucus priority because that’s the thing our constituency has asked the most about, is the ethics of our state legislative body. Without the confidence in our body, we lose a lot of opportunity to really serve.

Schaaf: Didn’t our governor run on a platform that he’s gonna pass a gift ban, and a revolving door ban, and different things like that?

Romine: That was the campaign trail, yes.

Schaaf: Do you think that the people of Missouri care about dark money being spent on campaigns?

Romine: I think that’s the one they’re most concerned about, where’re those dollars coming from, how are they being spent. And because they are a c4 that’s hidden from them. That’s hidden from us. That is very frustrating, when that’s what’s dominating our campaign programs right now.

Schaaf: I’d like to see us focus on that for one thing, we’re not doing it…

Romine: That to me should be a priority, c4s.

Schaaf: You know, I just appreciate the discussion. Thank you.

link photo credit: Travis Zimpfer / Missouri Times

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