Archive for the ‘2018’ Category

Wasinger is best choice for MO state auditor

Dual attorney/CPA skill sets will help unseat incumbent Democrat

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The Unablogger

Four Republicans are vying for the right to take on State Auditor Nicole Galloway, the last remaining Democrat holding statewide state office in Missouri. Voters elected Republican Tom Schweich state auditor the last time the office appeared on the ballot, but his death enabled Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to flip the office with the stroke of a pen. He appointed fellow Democrat Galloway to fill the vacancy. She is unopposed in the Democratic primary for a full term.

Republicans want the office back, and it is important for them to win it. The state auditor is in the line of succession to become governor to fill a vacancy, ahead of both the state treasurer and attorney general. In addition, a ballot initiative misnamed “Clean Missouri,” if passed by voters in November, would give the state auditor an important new role in redistricting.  A Republican auditor could prevent Democratic gerrymanders like those that took place after every census from 1930 through 2000, but a Democrat like Galloway could turn those reins back over to her party, in spite of most Missouri voters now voting Republican.

Perhaps most important, the strength or weakness of the Republican nominee for state auditor could also affect this year’s other statewide contest, the nationally crucial race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.

All four GOP candidates for auditor offer excellent professional qualifications, and all four are endorsed by the Missouri Right to Life PAC; but Republicans need to nominate their very best. In a prior post (which I encourage you to read if you haven’t yet), I explained why Republicans should not nominate Saundra McDowell, whose law degree, military service and professional experience would likely be overshadowed by her residency problem and $55,000 in court judgments against her. These problems are largely unpublicized.

Kevin Roach is an attorney and an alderman in Ballwin. His walk across the state (from Ballwin to Warrensburg) to persuade the University of Central Missouri to make its budget public was impressive, even scoring a write-up by popular St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan. But Roach’s resume and experience are thin compared to his opponents, and his fundraising has been the weakest of the four.

Paul Curtman is a term-limited state representative from Union. He has been a favorite of the St. Louis Tea Party from the beginning of his political career, and some friends whom I respect support him in this contest. Curtman emphasizes his leadership and experience as a four-term legislator. He notes that Galloway has failed to exercise leadership in favor of legislation fixing problems her audits mentioned, and he promised to fill that leadership void and work with the legislature to craft solutions. Curtman was one of just a handful of legislators to refuse to sign the petition for a special session to consider impeachment of then-Gov. Eric Greitens, a stand that could hurt his chances in November. Curtman is a veteran and a financial adviser, but is neither an attorney nor a certified public accountant (CPA).

Ever since 1970, when a young Republican lawyer named Kit Bond took on Missouri’s Democrat good-ole-boy establishment and upset State Auditor Haskell Holman, every state auditor, whether elected or appointed, has possessed the professional credentials of either an attorney, a CPA or both. Voters expect and demand that level of professionalism for this office. Galloway herself is a CPA. David Wasinger is the only Republican candidate who is a CPA. He is also an attorney. He utilized both skill sets when he represented a whistle blower against the Countrywide Home Loans unit of Bank of America over shoddy mortgage and related securities that helped precipitate the 2008 financial crisis.. A Manhattan-based assistant U.S. attorney credited Wasinger (whom she described as “a very dogged and determined lawyer”) with drafting a solid complaint that got “the government’s foot in the door.” Wasinger’s lawsuits helped the federal government recoup over $18 billion in penalties for American taxpayers. (This 2014 Reuters article provides a detailed look at these lawsuits and Wasinger personally.)

Wasinger is the only Republican candidate who has raised any significant campaign funds. He has raised over $877,000 as of June 30, including $500,000 of his own money. Even without counting his own contributions, he has raised nearly four times as much as all of his Republican foes combined. Democrat Galloway starts off with over a million dollars in the bank. Wasinger is the only Republican capable of raising the funds needed to wage a successful challenge.

Wasinger’s dual attorney/CPA credentials and skill sets will be attractive to voters in the general election and useful in that office. That, together with his principled conservatism, impeccable ethics and successful fundraising make him the best candidate in a strong field. I endorse David Wasinger for state auditor.

My judgment is validated by like endorsements from leading Missouri conservatives. They include former Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder (who was my choice for Missouri governor in 2016), who reliably had the Tea Party’s back, even when that wasn’t cool; Senate President pro tem and former House Speaker Ron Richard of Joplin; Assistant Senate Majority leader Dr. Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis, a conservative leader in the senate (and my allergist); and State Reps. Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau, Dean Plocher of St. Louis County and Rocky Miller of Osage Beach. Not surprisingly he also has the support of St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger.

I am not unbiased in making this endorsement. David Wasinger has been a friend of mine for nearly 30 years. But my admitted bias also offers a unique perspective on his candidacy. In numerous conversations over the years he has demonstrated that he is a principled conservative. I know him to be honest, capable, ethical, religious and professional. I know from experience that he is the real deal.

Republicans need a strong, qualified candidate to challenge incumbent Galloway and have a positive impact on the U.S. Senate race. David Wasinger is that guy.

 

 

 

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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.

Auditor Galloway whitewashes food stamp fraud

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The Unablogger

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway (D) issued a report this week criticizing (sort of) how the Missouri Department of Social Services tracks fraud in the food stamp program (SNAP). While noting that thousands of SNAP dollars had been spent by people who were apparently dead or incarcerated, as well as millions spent out-of-state, and that the state often had not properly reviewed the transactions, she graded the department’s system for detecting fraud as “fair.”

Fair?

The audit covered 2015 and 2016, during the administration of fellow Democrat Jay Nixon, who had appointed Galloway to her position.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a spokesperson for the Department of Social Services (under the current Republican administration) had written that the department had already reformed its system for evaluating out-of-state transactions earlier this year and was working to improve several other areas cited in the report.

Ms. Galloway’s report did not mention that the period investigated was entirely during the prior Democratic administration or any of the changes already put in place by the current Republican administration.

McCaskill wrong on sex trafficking

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U. S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) tried to score political points against her likely Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, by claiming that his remarks about the sexual revolution’s impact on the sex trafficking crisis was somehow anti-woman. The opposite is true.

What Hawley said was that in the 1960s and ’70s (a period of loosened sexual mores that has come to be known as the sexual revolution), it became socially acceptable for Hollywood and the media to treat women as objects for male gratification, and that such demeaning view of women helped fuel current harassment, inequality, and sex trafficking. He criticized the cultural elites for, in Hawley’s words, “denigrat[ing] the biblical truth about husband and wife.” His audience was a gathering of clergy at an event hosted by the Missouri Renewal Project.

McCaskill distorted Hawley’s remarks into an attack on birth control, which Hawley never mentioned and, in fact, supports. She went on to claim that the sexual revolution had created more freedom for women by expanding their access to birth control. As a Boomer who experienced the sexual revolution in real time, Claire should know better. The sexual revolution didn’t cause advances in birth control; it was the other way around. Advances in birth control caused (or at least fueled) the sexual revolution. And this was not empowering to women, because it shifted the perceived responsibility for birth control from men wearing condoms to women taking pills, at least in the minds of many men initiating sexual contact. Eventually, as portrayed in HBO’s Sex in the City, women now routinely protect themselves by carrying condoms for men in their purses.

Note that Hawley cited the sexual revolution as an influence, not the proximate cause, of the current crisis in sex trafficking. He was in fact siding with women against sexual predators. He lamented today’s exploitation of women, which he said was “on a scale that we would never have imagined.”

Beyond rhetoric, Hawley’s record speaks for itself. Shortly after being sworn in as Missouri Attorney General, he created an anti-sex-trafficking unit in his office and sued Backpage.com for allegedly promoting the practice.

McCaskill, though, has justifiable confidence that mainstream media outlets will spin the situation to fit McCaskill’s narrative. Indeed, right on cue, both of the state’s liberal urban dailies, the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Kansas City Star, headlined that Hawley “blame[d]” sex trafficking on the sexual revolution.

Jamilah Nasheed campaigns on public dime

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Today I received the 2017 End of Session Newsletter from State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (Democrat, 5th District). It’s a lovely puff piece, complete with four full-color photos of Nasheed (three on the first page) and her summary complaints about  Republican legislation. She invites recipients to three town hall meetings she has scheduled, in north St. Louis, south St. Louis and the Central West End. (Curiously, the last page asks recipients to return the form to her, with our own postage, even though the form is not a questionnaire seeking any input from recipients. That’s weird, but just a diversion from the point of this post.)

This is a fairly typical newsletter, produced at state expense (without any “paid for by” disclaimers required for campaign mailers), that all state senators and representatives get to send to their constituents. The problem? I am not a constituent of Sen. Nasheed. I live in the 4th District, a few miles from the closest boundary with Nasheed’s 5th District. I have my own state senator from whom to receive publicly financed propaganda.

Why would Sen. Nasheed send her mailing to me and others out of her district? She is probably planning to run for another office, perhaps citywide or maybe Congress. The three town hall meetings throughout the city that the newsletter promotes would certainly promote such a candidacy. While I don’t live in her district, I do live in the city and the First Congressional District in which Nasheed resides and wields clout. It would benefit such a campaign if people within the boundaries of whatever office she is seeking got to see her puff-piece newsletter. Not having the campaign literature disclaimer might even give it greater credibility. All the better if she doesn’t have to spend her own campaign funds to produce and mail it!

This abuse needs to be curbed.

Hostility to women not responsible for Wagner’s withdrawal

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Consistent with the mainsteam media’s continuing campaign to paint the Republican Party as inhospitable to women, Roll Call published a Nathan Gonzales column blaming perceived GOP hostility to women for the withdrawal of Congresswoman Ann Wagner from consideration for the GOP nomination to oppose Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s reelection next year. Gonzales is wrong.

Wagner was justifiably concerned about two sources of opposition to her candidacy within her party. The first and best known, and touched on by Gonzales, is the effort by establishment party elders like former Sen. Jack Danforth (generally regarded as the father of the 1970s Republican revival in Missouri) to get newly elected Attorney General Josh Hawley into the race instead of Wagner. Sam Fox, a major Missouri Republican donor and Danforth ally, had publicly urged Republican donors to hold off donating to any senate contenders until Hawley decided whether to enter the contest. That put a slight crimp in Wagner’s impressive early fundraising. Danforth and Fox’s motives were not sexist; they were based on concerns that Wagner might not be a strong enough candidate to beat McCaskill, or at least not as strong as Hawley would be. Hawley led the Republican ticket last year with 58.5% of the vote in the first statewide Republican sweep in Missouri in nearly a century. It is important for Republicans, both in Missouri and nationally, to take down McCaskill in 2018, important enough to go with their best shot, not just good enough to get it done with no margin of error. That’s how the establishment thinks, and in this case it makes sense.

The second and less publicized source of concern was vocal opposition to Wagner from the Tea Party faction. While Wagner scores relatively well on national measures of conservatism (88% American Conservative Union rating for 2016, but only 63% on the Heritage Action scorecard), the Tea Party is angered by her actions and votes designed to benefit Big Business donors at the expense of fiscal responsibility, a core Tea Party value. Wagner’s vote to save the Export-Import Bank is an example. The Tea Party regards Wagner and Sen. Roy Blunt as part of the pay-to-play swamp that President Trump wants to drain.

Another possible GOP senate contender, especially if dream candidate Hawley opts out, is Rep. Vicky Hartzler from western Missouri. I have heard no Tea Party complaints about Hartzler, who sports an excellent 2016 ACA rating of 96, although she scores only slightly better than Wagner on the Heritage Action scorecard with 69%. If any sexism exists towards Missouri Republican women, it rests with Gonzales, who indirectly dismissed Hartzler by calling Wagner “the GOP’s . . . only top-tier female hopeful,” even though Hartzler has won more elections and served longer in Congress than Wagner. Hartzler won her seat in the Tea Party revolt of 2010, prevailing over a tough primary field before unseating venerable 34-year incumbent Rep. Ike Skelton. At the time, Skelton was chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

Like the establishment elders, the Tea Party opposition to Wagner has nothing to do with gender; unlike the establishment elders, it has everything to do with policy concerns. While the establishment is quite comfortable with Wagner’s policies, the Tea Party is not.

McCaskill tows party line on Trump’s immigration order

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U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is following Democrat talking points in opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily halting travel to the United States from seven countries with ties to terrorists. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, McCaskill expressed outrage over temporary delays in travel for certain cherry-picked Muslim travelers and Trump’s direction to give priority to Christians for allowing entrance into the U.S.

The referenced delayed traveler, Hameed Darweesh, is an Iraqi man who had reportedly helped the U.S. as an engineer, interpreter and contractor and who possessed a valid visa. Darweesh was then vetted pursuant to the government’s new vetting process and was allowed to proceed into the U.S. less than 24 hours after arrival. According to the Post, McCaskill said that made her “want to throw up.”

McCaskill’s Republican colleague, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), explained the situation in more measured tones. While noting his own opposition to a blanket travel ban on Muslims, Blunt explained that Trump’s order increased vetting of people traveling from countries with extensive terrorist ties or activity. He properly prioritized keeping Americans safe.

Democrats have falsely claimed that the countries selected by Trump to be subject to the restrictions were selected because of their Muslim majorities, and that Trump had excluded Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and other Muslim countries with Trump business ties. Trump selected the seven countries because people traveling from those countries provide the greatest risk to the security of the U.S. They were the same seven countries that the Obama Administration singled out for exception under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. The Muslim nations with Trump business ties were also not excepted by the Obama Administration under the visa law.

The Post also referred to a McCaskill statement criticizing Trump’s willingness to give Christians facing persecution preferential consideration for refugee resettlement. Apparently McCaskill either didn’t notice or didn’t care that Christians in those nations were disproportionately the victims of Islamic terrorist violence. When ISIS refers to “infidels,” they mostly mean Christians. That is exactly who should be allowed to enter as refugees. Trump’s order was in direct contrast to the Obama Administration’s admission of Muslim “refugees” while leaving most Christians refugees behind to die. The Clinton Administration policy of allowing Bosnian Muslim refugees in the 1990s was consistent with the fact that Muslims were the ones then being persecuted. Priority should be given to identified groups who are at risk of genocide and pose no ascertainable risk to the U.S. It is appropriate to single out specific religions when religion is the motivation of the persecution.

McCaskill is following the Democratic Party line. Her fellow Democrat senators, including those who, like her, are facing tough reelection campaigns next year, followed the same script as McCaskill. Democrats want to characterize everything Trump does as racist or xenophobic, regardless of their merits. Embarrassed by losing an election they expected to win, Democrats are trashing the new president at every opportunity. McCaskill is piling on.