Doubts about McDowell’s auditor candidacy

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The Unablogger

At last week’s forum for Republican candidates for Missouri state auditor, all four  candidates made very credible appearances, and all four also practiced Ronald Reagan’s famous 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any other Republican candidate. Unfortunately, this welcome display of civility deprived Republican primary voters of information about how one of them could be especially vulnerable to Democrat attacks in the general election.

An internet search uncovered a Columbia Tribune article about candidate Saundra McDowell that makes me wary of her candidacy.  The article states that Mrs. McDowell has $55,000 in judgments against her and that her Missouri residency may fall short of the ten years required to hold the office.

The judgments, according to the article, are for unpaid rent and failure to pay a promissory note from  a private law practice she and her husband conducted from 2010 to 2014. Two months after the article was published (and shortly after the deadline for filing for office), another repercussion of that law practice materialized when the Missouri Supreme Court suspended the license of her husband and law partner, Jonathan McDowell, indefinitely, with no right to apply for reinstatement for one year. The St. Louis Record, a legal newspaper, reported that the suspension was due to his failure to timely file in state court, costing an airline pilot his employment discrimination case.

Incurring judgments for debt speaks poorly of a candidate’s financial acumen, which is important for a financially-related office like auditor. The licensure problems apparently belong solely to Mrs. McDowell’s husband, and apparently involved negligence and malpractice, not dishonesty. Nevertheless, these facts would sound terrible when packaged in a vicious Democrat attack ad that could cripple Republican chances to win the office if she would become the nominee.

The residency issue is more complex.  Mrs. McDowell first registered to vote in Missouri in 2010, only eight years ago. According to the Tribune,  Mrs. McDowell claims that her Missouri residence began earlier when she met her St. Louis husband in law school and decided that they would marry and make their home in Missouri after school. She cites the “intent” element of residency that the Missouri Supreme Court relied on in upholding Kit Bond’s right to be a candidate for governor in 1972, after having attended law school and then been employed outside the state. Bond, however, had been a Missourian prior to going away to school and maintained his voter registration in Missouri the entire time. Mrs. McDowell had been a resident of Oklahoma when she went away to school, residing temporarily in Virginia when she met her husband and formed her intent to move here. While one can arguably self-identify as a woman to use the women’s rest room in Target, self-identifying as a Missourian two years before moving here may not satisfy the residency requirements. In any case, valuable campaign resources and time would be wasted by the inevitable post-primary challenge to her residency.

Other than the Tribune article, which appeared in February, before filing for office had even begun, I can find no main-stream media coverage of these issues concerning Mrs. McDowell. That’s not surprising. Pro-Democrat media have no desire or intention to inform Republican voters prior to a primary election. For example, in 2002 the St. Louis Post Dispatch made no mention of a Republican primary candidate’s felony conviction until the day after the primary, which the flawed candidate won. Then it became front-page news. The timing made it clear that the Post knew and consciously concealed the damaging information until it was too late for Republican primary voters to react.

With voters in the dark, Mrs. McDowell could win the primary. She is photogenic, personable, and has relevant experience to be a qualified candidate. But Republicans should not risk subjecting their ticket to the vicious attack ads that her nomination would foster, especially when there are better alternatives: all three of her three primary opponents (in ballot order, Kevin Roach, David Wasinger and Paul Curtman) are quite capable and, to the best of my knowledge, lack that kind of baggage. I think one of those candidates stands out above the others, and I will write about that in my next post.

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