The Mysterious 4

We’re making our traditional May trip east this week, a trip we’ve made almost every year since 1954.   Thirty-three people who were a long ways from being born then will be racing to see who wins the 100th Indianapolis 500.

If you’re looking for some of the usual political analysis that usually occupies this space, forget it today.  If you don’t care about humankind’s eternal quest to be faster than someone else, move along.  As Lt. Frank Drebin of Police Squad fame used to say, “There’s nothing to see here.” There’s more to life than politics.  One of those things is racin’.

We’re always looking for Missouri story angles when we cover the 500 for the Missourinet.  This is the story of a Missouri angle and a Speedway mystery.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is America’s oldest track built for the racing of automobiles.  People were racing cars a decade or more before the first race track in the world to be called a Speedway held its first races in 1909.  But those races were held on roads and streets or on tracks originally intended for racing horses.

The first Indianapolis 500 was in 1911, a time when Ray Harroun’s Marmon Wasp was considered the height of high-tech racing because he installed a rear-view mirror so he wouldn’t have to carry the weight of a riding mechanic who would tell him who was behind him, and because it had a tapered aerodynamic tail with a little fin on the back.

Races weren’t held in 1918 and 1942-45 because of wars.  Otherwise, a 500-mile race has been part of Memorial Day for generations of Americans.

One of the cars in the Speedway museum is Jim Rathmann’s winning Ken-Paul Special from 1960.  At least that’s what the sign in front of it says.

IMGP8717 (2)

It’s a design referred to as a roadster, a car with an engine that’s offset with the driveline running alongside the driver on the left side, not beneath him.  It let the cars corner better and have a lower center of gravity than the designs of 1911 that extended into the early 1950s. It was built by A. J. Watson, one of the wizards of race-car construction in that era.   It carries the number 4.

But is this really the car that won what has been called “the greatest two-man duel in 500 history?”

The 1960 race saw the lead change 29 times, mostly in the second half of the 200-lap race.  That record stood until modern aerodynamics and uniform chassis design led to 34 lead changes in 2012, and  broken in 2013 when there were 68.

Rodger Ward, the 1959 winner, led twenty of the first 95 laps. Rathmann led 33.  Pole-winner Eddie Sachs, 1952 champion Troy Ruttman, and Johnny Thompson split the other 42.  But from the time Rathmann moved back into the lead on the 96th lap, it was just him and Ward.

Rathmann and Ward swapped the lead fifteen times before Ward had to slow down with three laps left because he saw that he had worn his tires down to the cord.  He finished second, about thirteen seconds back. Ward won the race a second time in 1962 and remains one of three drivers in 500 history who finished in the top three six races in a row.

That was an era when the saying, “There are old race drivers and there are bold race drivers but there are no old, bold race drivers” as all too true.  Before that year was out, Johnny Thompson, Jimmy Bryan, and Al Herman—all starters in the race—were killed in racing crashes.  Tony Bettenhausen died in a practice crash at the Speedway not quite a year later.  Shorty Templeman was killed in 1962.  Don Branson was killed in 1966. And Eddie Sachs was killed with rookie Dave McDonald in the horrendous first-lap crash of 1964.

And 1964 brings us to the second part of the story.

St. Louis was celebrating its bicentennial that year and one of the cars in the race was Wally Weir’s Mobilgas Special driven to eighth place by Bob Harkey.

Harkey 1964

The car is now owned by race car collector Bob McConnell of Urbana, Ohio, who has restored it to its 1964 appearance, complete with the “St. Louis Bicentennial 1764-1964” logo on the right side of the engine cover.

He claims this is the car Jim Rathmann drove to victory in that epic duel with Rodger Ward.  Rathman drove the same car in 1961 and practiced with an inverted airfoil mounted over the cockpit in an early experiment to increase downforce.

Rathmann wing 1961

But the wing proved impractical and was discarded for the race. Rathmann also had it in the 1962 race.  Webster Groves (Mo.) driver Paul Russo couldn’t get it up to speed in 1963.  Harkey’s drive in it in 1964 was the last year it made the 500.

By then the roadster era was fading away as rear-engine cars took over.  Many of the roadsters were heavily modified to race as supermodified cars in the northeast at places like Sandusky, Ohio and Oswego, New York.   Eventually those designs became outmoded and many of the old roadsters were junked.  Several, however, have been put back together and restored.  And that’s the case with the Watson roadster that McConnell had at the Speedway last year.   He says the Speedway museum knows about his car and his claim of its lineage.

He was looking for Harkey to drop by to visit the car when we dropped by first.

A couple of things to note:  The tires on this car are not the kind of tires used in the races in the 1960s.  Those tires had little or no tread and they changed a great deal from this car’s first race in 1960 until its last race in 1964.

It might seem extremely dangerous to have the fuel filler cap so close to the exhaust pipe on the left side.  It was and that’s why one of the duties of a member of the pit crew as to slide an insulated cover over the exhaust pipe before the fuel hose was plugged in.  This car ran on methanol, a fuel that burns invisibly, so that insulated cover over the exhaust pipe was critical to safety.

The 1964 race is remembered as the last race in which gasoline-powered cars competed.  That was the year that McDonald’s gasoline-powered car crashed coming out of the fourth turn on the first lap and caught fire.  It bounced into the path of Eddie Sachs’ gasoline-fueled car and the collision caused a second, larger explosion.  Both drivers were killed. The race was stopped for the first time in its history.  Several other cars were damaged beyond repair and some of the other drivers suffered burns as they drove through the wreck site.  Parnelli Jones, who had won the race in 1963, bailed out of his methanol-fueled car later on pit road after a pit stop because it had caught fire. Methanol became the fuel of choice for this kind of racing after that tragic 500.  Racers now run on pure ethanol.

We talked to Speedway Historian Donald Davidson about the 4s—McConnell’s St. Louis Bicentennial car and the Speedway Museum’s Ken-Paul Special.  It’s a difficult issue, he told us, without coming down on either side.   It’s been a half-century since this Speedway devotee watched Jim Rathmann and Bob Harkey drive Watson roadsters with the number 4 on their noses.   A lot can happen to cars in those years.

The provenance of restored racing cars is not always easy to track.  By the time they’re available for restoration, they’ve been wrecked, modified, stuck on tops of buildings as advertising, left to gather dust in a shed—you name it.  They are basket cases sometimes—and the basket is missing a lot of parts, as Bob McConnell explained in his interview. Restoration sometimes means fabricating new pieces or finding parts from other wrecks that once were on a car like the one you’re restoring.   Both claims to the Rathmann car might have some legitimacy. And we join Donald not taking sides.

It’s good to be able to go into the museum and see so many of the cars we remember when they were the hottest, fastest things flashing past us with great roars, driven by legends and heroes.   But it’s also kind of melancholy because of those memories and the quietness of race cars on display. Not to get overly-dramatic about it, but it’s kind of the difference between seeing a living lion and standing next to a stuffed one.

Then there are people like Bob McConnell who not only restore racers such as Harkey’s St. Louis Bicentennial car, but run them.  Part of the celebration of the Speedway’s centennial era has been its invitation to people like McConnell to bring their restored racers back to the track, not only to display them, but to fire them up and get them back on the oval—and perhaps running in triple digits again—as you heard, he doesn’t know how fast they go because there’s no speedometer, but they don’t just cruise around.  They’re back for 2016. Unfortunately, Harkey won’t be.  He died last January.

We understand the Speedway is going to fire up the Marmon Wasp for the 100th race and have it bellow its way around the track again.  Neither it nor any of those old cars will ever push the limits of mechanical operation and human mortality as they once did.  But to see them, to hear them on the race track within hours of when today’s cars do push the limits does quicken the heart.

Wasp (ims)

Ray Harroun’s Marmon Wasp averaged about 74.6 miles an hour in 1911.  Look at some pictures of the cars people drove on the streets in 1911 and with a straight face say you’d be glad to drive one of those down a road at 75 mph today for even a couple of minutes, let alone for almost seven hours at an AVERAGE of 75.  On 1911 tires.

In 1954, when these eyes watched cars at Indianapolis for the first time, they beheld the first official lap run at 140 miles an hour on pole day.  One lap on the two-and-a-half-mile track by Jack McGrath at 141.033 (we remember things like that). Bill Vukovich won the race that year at 130.840.    Three years ago these same eyes, with bifocals now, watched Tony Kanaan go 500 miles at 187.433, the current record.   Whatever you might think about automobile racing, what the men and women on that track in this era are doing is astonishing, as astonishing as what their predecessors did.

Each era is filled with those astonishing performances.  We’re going back this week to savor the history and the history that will be made.

This year’s car with the number 4 is driven by Buddy Lazier who won the race twenty years ago.  His 1996 car is in the museum, too.

It will take about as long to travel from Jefferson City to Indianapolis as it took Ray Harroun to win the first 500.   And then on race day, somebody will cover the distance between a western suburb of Kansas City to Indianapolis is less than three hours.


(photo credits: Bob Priddy; Indianapolis Motor Speedway;; Indianapolis Motor Speedway)


The end of a legislative session gives us, the voters, a chance to evaluate what we hath wrought for ourselves through those we have chosen to represent us.   Sometimes what we hath wrought is writ in numbers that are Practical (as opposed to theoretical) Political Science 101.  Lend ear and eye to today’s lesson that begins with statistics.

The Senate Information Office gives out a summary of the legislative session minutes after adjournment each May, a series of numbers that probably wouldn’t mean much to Mr. or Mrs. Joe Missouri if they got these numbers in their mailboxes.  However, let’s spend some time thinking about those numbers and what they might tell us.  The numbers are only part of the story of about seventy days of a legislative session, of course.

What passed and what didn’t pass is the real measure of a session and the motivations of its participants.  Senator Emory Melton once told your observer that passing legislation is only part of the job.  Defeating legislation is as important. Capitol Press Corps members exhaust themselves each year telling that part of the story.  They have to believe that readers, listeners, and viewers care enough to pay attention to their stories. There are times when fatigue is so heavy that only that belief keeps them going.

Two-thousand-forty bills were introduced this year (1,457 of them in the House).  The Senate passed 113 of its 583 bills.  Twenty-five of them were consent bills, non-controversial measures.  That leaves 88 bills that faced confrontational debate, that faced efforts to amend them, and passed with recorded votes of the Senators.  Those 88 bills represent only fifteen percent of all bill introduced in the Senate. Of those eighty-eight, only 57 were approved by the House and sent to the Governor for signature or veto.

The Senate received 254 of the 1,457 House bills.  Of that 254, sixteen were appropriations bills.  Passing a state budget is one of only two responsibilities the legislature has each year.  Actually, its responsibility is even less than that.  It is charged with paying the state’s debts and setting aside money for public schools.  But the legislature could have gone home after providing the money to keep state services flowing to Missourians.  Eighty-one of the 254 surviving House bills were approved by the Senate and sent to the Governor.

Of the 2,040 bills introduced, only 138 made it all the way through the session.  That’s only 6.8 percent.

But there’s more.

Twenty-eight proposed constitutional amendments were introduced in the Senate, 59 more in the House.  Of those 87 proposed changes to the state constitution, only one got final approval.

So, as we interpret the Senate Information Office scoresheet, 139 of 2,127 measures introduced were able to get majority votes in both chambers, 6.5%.

The raw figures are a little deceiving because (a) several bills were identical and (b) several bills passed were combinations of several different bills.  But still, the number of issues that got overall legislative approval is quite small.

Some will look at that final number and think the legislature has wasted a lot of time and money.  While there might be a certain amount of truth in that suggestion (why the House and the Senate each have their own information offices AND partisan information staffs for each party always struck us as an extravagance), the numbers speak of the legislative process.

Sometimes the title of a final version of a bill is an indication of the difficult path legislation follows.  Here’s a pretty extreme example:  CCR#2 SS/SCS/HS/HCS/HBs 3021, 2979, and 3054 with SA1, SA2, SA5, SA6.

Theoretical House Bill 3021 went through a committee hearing.  Other bills had identical wording and also were heard. Several amendments were offered, leading the committee to combine the amendments and the identical bills into a new House Committee Substitute for 3021 and the other two proposals.  During floor debate, several more amendments were added so the sponsor introduced a new substitute on the House floor incorporating all of the amendments to make the bill a cleaner proposal for the Senate to consider.  A similar process happened in the Senate, where a committee combined several committee amendments into a Senate Committee substitute bill that picked up more amendments during debate, leading the floor handler to incorporate the changes into a single clean Senate Substitute that was approved with even more amendments, at least four of the six (actually there had been eight) that were offered being adopted.

The changed bill went back to the House where the sponsor wasn’t sure of the acceptability of the Senate changes so he asked for the formation of a conference committee made up of four members of the House and four members of the Senate to consider the changes and recommend a final version it thought would be acceptable to both chambers. In this case, the first conference committee report faced enough uncertainty that it was sent back for another review and a second report indicated the amended Senate substitute was, indeed, acceptable.  Since the bill originated in the House, it had to be approved there first before the final version was approved by the Senate and sent to the Governor for his consideration.

Not all bills go through that gauntlet but creating the laws that will govern six-plus million people in Missouri every second of every day can be a painstaking process.  Yes, there are times when even more pains need to be taken to get it right, but most of the time the process works.  And yes, sometimes the process works better for some Missourians than for others and, yes, more could be done if less time was spent on fighting over issues that pander to one voting bloc or another.   But it is all part of a process that gives elected humanity equal opportunities to display its worst nature as well as its best. And in the end, voters have a chance to display their worst and best natures and their decisions are reflected in the way the process functions.

In a competition of ideas, ideals, agendas, and ideologies, the gauntlet bills must run is exacting and highly competitive.  We’ve commented from time to time that it is a miracle that anything is accomplished.

Watching that process or being part of that process is an absorbing thing that draws you in and won’t let you go.  And then the gavel falls at 6 p.m. on a Friday evening and the numbers are added up and the pressure goes away and the process has more or less worked again.

When you don’t have to be quiet

Spent some time at the University of Missouri-Columbia the other day and picked up the school year’s last edition of the student newspaper, The Maneater. A special part of the paper was devoted to the turbulent year on the Columbia campus.  The staff ranked events in various categories including the Top Five Worst of the year.

The Biggest Embarrassment was the Missouri Students Association.  The Biggest Letdown was the performance of the football and basketball teams.  Among the other “worsts” was Biggest Frustration.

It was the Missouri legislature.  The school administration for understandable political reasons can’t say things that students can. This has been a turbulent year for the young men and women on the Columbia campus.  Only a few were involved in the campus disturbances last fall but all of them have to live with the results of what the few did and the political fallout from those weeks.  We thought Maneater staff writer Amos Chen’s appraisal of the Missouri legislature was worth passing along because it comes from one of the thousands of students who were swept up in the politics of the year.  Here’s what he wrote:

Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” 

Through their frustrating actions over the past year, the Missouri legislature has more than proven Reagan’s famous words true.

In August, former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin was called to testify before the Senate by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, about the relationship between University Hospital and Planned Parenthood.  All this, despite the Missouri Attorney General’s Office later finding no evidence of wrongdoing.

Schaefer was back at it again in January when an email from former UM System President Tim Wolfe surfaced where he claimed Schaefer pressured him to deny then-MU associate professor Josh Hawley’s request for a leave of absence to run for Attorney General.  In a revelation that surprised absolutely nobody, Schaefer also happens to be running for that position.

That’s before getting to the “piece de resistance” of the entire affair—Missouri lawmakers response to the Concerned Student 1950 protests against racial discrimination, and former assistant communications professor Melissa Click’s call for “muscle” making national headlines. 

In March, the House Budget Committee became the latest to jump on the “let’s screw over MU” bandwagon, passing a budget slashing $1 million in funds for MU.  The budgetary hearing produced gems such as an amendment by Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, reducing state funding for MU from $169,305,944 to $1 (not a typo).  The amendment was later withdrawn, not because Miller thought it wouldn’t pass, but because he was afraid it would.  I would write a joke about this but nothing I think of could possibly match the absurdity of this piece of political theater.

The Senate later came to its senses and restored the cuts, but it retained a $1 million decrease to administration to make sure the university knew who the real boss around these parts is. The final draft cut the UM System budget by $3.8 million.

From dubiously motivated witch hunts to politically influenced legislation, the actions of the Missouri legislature over the past year rightfully earns these legislators the title of Biggest Frustration.

We offer this with no endorsement or comment.  Sometimes the voice of someone who didn’t start a fight but whose life is affected by it says something.

Sometimes we wonder at the end of elections and at the end of legislative sessions whether the candidates or the lawmakers gave any thought to how their actions did anything to improve the public attitude toward government.  Amos seems to have given an answer.

A solution in search of a problem

Or: Whatever happened to early voting?

The legislature has decided to ask voters if they want to make it harder for them to vote.  If voters decide, probably in November, that they want to go through some additional procedures before they’re allowed to cast their ballots, the change will be felt in the 2018 election cycle.

Today, voters show up at the polling places and present their locally-issued voter registration card, sign a document, and get a ballot.  If the change is approved later this year by voters who think they also should prove they are the person listed on their registration card, they’ll have to show some additional identification that satisfies the judges at the polling places they are who they say they are.  Opponents finally got the previously stiff-backed sponsors to build a little flexibility into the proposal. But the basic issue is whether Missourians will support a solution without a problem.

The Secretary of State, the top elections official in Missouri, had estimated the original plan kicked around the General Assembly for the last few years, would disenfranchise as many as 220,000 Missourians.  He, being a Democrat, carried no weight with the legislative majority, being Republican.  Opponents claim the plan will hurt voters who traditionally lean toward Democrats.  Republicans claim the idea is a matter of making our ballots less susceptible to voter fraud.  And they pooh-pooh the Secretary of State’s estimate.

Just how big is the problem this proposal seeks to solve?

How much fraud has there been at polling places in Missouri?

Get out your microscope, folks. It is smaller than the naked eye can perceive.

We’ve consulted the Secretary of State’s election results web page for all state primary and general elections from the 2008 August primary through the November 2014 general election.   We looked at the races in which the greatest number of votes were cast (Total votes decline as one goes down the ballot).  Those races include State Auditor, President, U. S. Senator, and Governor, depending on the year.

Total number of precincts used 2008-2014:  27,931

Total votes cast in highest-drawing races: 11,898,467

Total number of precincts where voter fraud has occurred: 1

Number of Missourians prosecuted for voter fraud: 2

Number of votes in the election in which fraud was prosecuted: 1,342

In a 2010 primary election for a seat in the House of Representatives from Kansas City, two relatives of John Rizzo used fake addresses so they could vote for him.  He won by a single vote. A third candidate got fifteen votes.  His relatives were fined $250 each and were banned from voting in Missouri for the rest of their lives. Rizzo was elected to two more terms in the House and announced last year he would forego his fourth and final House term to run for the Senate.

Two votes out of almost twelve-million have been prosecuted as fraudulent. It takes a lot of zeroes after the decimal point.

But the legislature has taken hours and hours and hours for several sessions trying to get this proposal passed.

And that surely raises questions about motivation.  Doesn’t it?

Those pushing this idea also point to a Heritage Foundation report of seventeen Missouri voter fraud convictions in the last decade (2005-15).  But all seventeen of those convictions stemmed from fraudulent REGISTRATION, not from fraudulent actions at polling places. But true believers in photo-ID don’t want to hear that argument.  Don’t confuse them with facts.

So here’s a new fact that gets to the amount of voter REGISTRATION fraud:

We’ve checked the Secretary of State’s voter registration numbers for 2004-2012 and census numbers for 2014.  The total is 23,929,575 registrations.  Someone who faked a registration in ’04 might logically be prosecuted in 2005 and someone who faked it in 2014 likely would be prosecuted in ’15, so the numbers pretty well parallel the Heritage Foundation study.

Seventeen convictions out of 24-million registrations.

Add up the number of opportunities for voter fraud either at registration or at the polling place and we get eighteen prosecutions about of almost 36,000,000 opportunities.

Our online calculator says that is .000049999999999999996%

We’ll save you the counting time.  Four zeros, a four, fifteen nines and a six.   In those ten years there has been an average of one fraudulent registration or vote out of every 2,000,000 registrations or votes cast.  NOAA, the national weather service, says an average person who lives to be eighty years old has one chance in 12-THOUSAND of getting hit by lightning.

Although the final versions that passed this year began as House bills sponsored by Representatives Justin Alferman and Tony Dugger, the leading voice on this issue in past sessions has been Senator Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit.  And guess what Senator Kraus is running for this year?

Missouri’s top elections position, Secretary of State.

His primary election opponent, Jay Ashcroft, also is a true believer in voter photo ID.

One does not need a very long memory to recall when Secretary of State Matt Blunt, a Republican, and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, were urging the legislature to pass laws making it easier to vote.  Their early voting proposals did not require people to give a reason for wanting to vote early as is the case now when the voter has to claim he or she will be outside their voting area on election day to cast an absentee ballot.  Early voting eliminated lying and allowed people who might not want to leave their workplace on election day to cast their ballots on some other day.

But easier voting, even with bipartisan support from the state’s highest election officers, was ignored.  The effort, instead, has been on making it harder to vote.

Supporters justify making it harder to vote by saying it takes identification to write checks, get on airplanes, and other things.   They conveniently ignore one important difference.   Voting is a constitutional right.  Writing checks and flying are not.   Many of those who are quick to say that a reading of the U. S. Constitution is all that is needed to set American on the right path again are quite ready in this case to compare a constitutional right to getting an airline ticket.  Do we really think that our Founding Fathers—these advocates also like to cite them—thought voting and (in their times) getting a ticket for a seat in a coach had the same level of importance in the American system of government they were creating?

This issue is going to be on the ballot later this year.  Has anybody else noticed that the last time we might get to vote for President, Governor, U. S. Senator and many other offices without providing more documentation about who we are is the election in which we might vote to forfeit that part of our voting privilege?

And the best the backers of this proposition can do is point to two votes cast out of almost 12-MILLION votes in the last eight state primary and general elections and seventeen cases of REGISTRATION fraud (which is not mentioned in these pieces of legislation) out of about 24-MILLION registrations.

Is our system of a democratic-republic form of government more at risk because of those two votes and seventeen registrations or because of those who claim they want to protect us?


Tramping to oblivion

Here it is at last, the final day of the legislative session.  Before the sun goes down, the roads out of Jefferson City will be filled with cars fleeing the Capitol for the sanity of home and freedom.  By sundown, the record will be writ, partisan appraisals will be offered, and the real campaign season will begin.  For some.

We’ll be interested in the session evaluations, knowing they will be sharply different according to party.  We’ll be interested to see the list of significant bills passed so we can evaluate whether they were for the welfare of all of the people of Missouri or whether this session, in the end, produced a basket of ideology with the main purpose being the retention of power.

For a few dozen lawmakers, the drop of the gavel at 6 p.m. will render them ceremonial figures.  They’ll be back to open their mail every now and then and in September they’ll convene for a few hours for veto override ceremonies.  But their days of writing legislation and advocating or fighting issues are finished. Their time in the cauldron, in the arena, in the daily bath of adrenaline and argument is ended.

Good riddance for some.  A loss to the political system for others.  Term limits means many of these folks will never again be able to do something a lot of them have come to love. Their voters are forever forbidden to keep them in office no matter how exemplary they have been. In fact, many will never return to the Capitol after they clean out their offices later this year.  There won’t be anything for them to do and as time passes there will be nobody who remembers them enough to talk to.

We’ve wondered how often those who have served and who have fought each other or worked closely with each other ever pick up the phone in later years and call a former colleague just to say “hello.”  We’ve wondered if time brings a reflective warmth that even softens old antagonisms into friendships.

We’ve never heard of a legislative alumni gathering.  Maybe there are small ones at funerals.

The lights will be turned off in the House and the Senate tonight and next week the chambers will be dark, quiet, and cool and the Capitol will go to sleep.   Until January, when the building’s heart begins to beat again with new people in office rooms that have been home to those who will be important for their last time today.

It is days like this that remind us of the great sportswriter Grantland Rice who wrote many years ago of those whose day in the arena had passed:

Far off I hear the rolling, roaring cheers.

They come to me from many yesterdays,

From record deeds that cross the fading years,

And light the landscape with their brilliant plays,

Great stars that knew their days in fame’s bright sun.

I hear them tramping to oblivion.

And that’s what many will be doing as dusk falls on Missouri this evening.  Driving home.  Tramping to oblivion.


Capitol credits

If politicians weren’t so self-contradictory, political reporters would have no fun at all.  Saying one thing and doing another, saying different things in different places, taking positions that seem opposite from similar positions provide fodder for those in the press or in the citizenry at large who hope for stability in the political system, particularly stability based on the highest ideals of service to all of the people.  That’s an awfully high bar and probably an unrealistic one but without expecting the highest levels of commitment and service, the alternative can too easily become  the lowest level of results.

The leader of the Missouri Senate, Senator Ron Richard, loves the Capitol.  Even before he became Speaker of the House in 2009, Richard was aware of the building’s deteriorating condition and was looking for a way to restore and maintain the state’s greatest symbol.  We talked during his time as Speaker of his hopes to establish an endowment program, an idea that was worthy but not likely to attract the kind of money that, instead, flows too easily to those who want to hold office in that building.

But what a wonderful thing that would be!   Imagine the endowment that could be established if, say, Rex Sinquefield and the Humphreys family—two entities that throw millions of dollars at candidates every election cycle—would make the same kind of commitment to the Capitol in just one off-year.  It’s not fair to single them out so imagine the endowment that could be created if all of the other special interests and individuals who underwrite campaigns wrote comparable checks to the Capitol endowment fund just once.

But that’s one of the contradictions of our political system.  Restoring and maintaining the building where policy is enacted is always going to be much less important than influencing the people who enact the policies and maintaining that influence.   What value is there in making sure the state’s most powerful symbol of democracy crumbles when money can be better invested in making sure democracy itself, as an institution for the benefit of all, crumbles in the face of protection for the few?

Senator Richard thinks he finally has found a lever that can move his idea for restoring and preserving the State Capitol.  A tax credit program.

About fifty million dollars is being spent fixing some horrible leaks under the south front Capitol stairs.  The water running into basement spaces is causing numerous problems for those who work or store things there.   The money is provided by a bond issue and is therefore limited and has to be paid back out of the general tax collections.  Richard’s plan would provide some ongoing funding without lowering the amount available to pay for state operations.

Richard proposes changes to the present Historic Preservation Tax Credit program that’s important in communities throughout the state.  Some of Richard’s conservative legislative colleagues have a low opinion of them regardless of the value they have to their home towns.  He suggests reducing the historic tax credits by ten million dollars and shifting twenty million dollars into a special fund that could be grown to restore, repair, and maintain the Capitol.

It’s kind of complicated but some of the proceeds from the program would be spent to solicit donations into the Capitol endowment fund.  He thinks his plan would encourage people and trusts and foundations to contribute to the fund, which also would support ongoing needs of the Executive Mansion, the Transportation Department building—which the legislature wants to take over as a Capitol office annex—and, maybe, the Supreme Court Building.

A Senate committee has held a hearing on Richard’s proposal to give it a first public airing.  Richard knows the idea won’t go anywhere this year but he’s gotten it on the table and hopes it can be passed next year.  Some fine-tuning is likely because it seems to raise some concerns in the local historic preservation movement.

But it’s a good start for a proposal to preserve a symbol of the best that Missouri can be.

It’s interesting that Senator Richard wants to raise millions of dollars to preserve and protect the Capitol at the same time he is insisting the Senate spend thousands and thousands of dollars to tear up one of the architectural treasures of the building—the Senate visitors’ gallery—so he can kick the press off of the floor of the Senate where they have sat at a table since the building was brand new, all because of a complaint that grows more petty with the passage of time.

Contradictions.  Reporters love them.  In this case, though, it appears that those who live by the contradiction will suffer by one of them.   Too bad the money earmarked for the effort against legislative reporters couldn’t be invested, instead, in Richard’s more praiseworthy effort to preserve and protect the building—including preserving the Senate visitor’s gallery.


Senator McCaskill’s office sent us a note a few weeks ago reminding us that she and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio would be asking the Senate to start civil contempt proceedings against the website Backpage because it has refused to provide information as part of a committee investigation of sex trafficking.   It has been almost two months since the Senate voted to hold the outfit in contempt and we have received no releases from McCaskill or anybody else indicating anything is being done since the headlines were made in March.

But that’s not where we’re headed with this entry today. Not exactly.

We were struck with the thought—you know how one word can trigger a thought different from the issue being discussed—that a system of government so many people are finding contemptible is, at two levels, showing contempt for the system of which it is a part and at the same time one  body is trying to hold someone else in contempt.  And the public is not blind to it.

The senate that has held the webpage in contempt is the same Senate whose leaders can be accused of showing contempt of the American system of government when it comes to President Obama’s new nominee for the United States Supreme Court.. Closer to home, we suppose, the same could be said of the Missouri Senate whose leadership said weeks ago that it will not consider confirmation of any appointments to the University of Missouri Board Of Curators by Governor Nixon.

In both cases, the Governor and the President have an obligation to make appointments.  One of the roles of the Senate at both the state and national levels is to give its advice and consent to the appointments.  In neither the state law nor federal constitutions is there anything that gives state and national senates power to—or permission to—refuse to consider for confirmation or rejection any nominee the Governor or the President makes until after an upcoming an election.

But there is a “however” factor.

Neither constitution sets any timetable for confirmation so the Senates can delay any hearings until after the appointing officer’s term runs out.  There have been refusals to confirm.  But both standards say the President and the Governor WILL make the appointments and those persons WILL serve—if the Senates consent.  But there is no ticking clock at either level.

In Missouri, we have a law that says a law goes into effect if the governor takes no action on it, either with a signature or a veto.  There is no similar law saying appointments become effective if the Senate takes no action. It might seem fair to some if the “no action” issue cut both ways but don’t expect the Missouri Senate to move toward that kind of balance of powers.

Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution is clear:  “He shall…nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court…..”

Missouri law (172.030) is equally clear:  “The board of curators of the University of the State of Missouri shall hereafter consist of nine members, who shall be appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate….”

And 172.050, also referring to Curators: “All vacancies which may exist at or during the meeting of the biennial sessions of the general assembly, caused by death, resignation or removal, shall be filled in like manner as those created by the expiration of official terms…”

The President “shall” appoint justices.  The governor “shall” appoint curators. Nothing in the law, nothing in the Constitution, says a governor or a president is excused from that responsibility because they are x-number of months away from leaving office.

In the case of the Board of Curators, the law says the board “shall” consist of nine members.   Resignations have reduced that number to six.  The Missouri Senate’s refusal to consider confirming new members could be seen, we suppose, as violating state law which implies vacancies “shall” be filled. Again, the loophole is that there’s no defined time for the senate to act on curator nominations.

The refusal by state senators to keep the board at nine curators might seem to violate the oath of office they all raised their hands to take, part of which is: “I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the state of Missouri, and faithfully perform the duties of my office…”

Faithfully performing the duties of office includes giving advice and consent to curators’ appointees.  Consent is not required.  “Advice and consent” IS required with rejection an option.  But lawyers probably could argue that the applicable sections of law do not support refusal to act.

Nothing gives the President, the Governor, or either Senate permission to delay making appointments or giving advice and consent until after an election. But it does not prohibit such things either.  One legal source we have looked at refers to the federal Administrative Procedure Act as requiring “courts to determine whether an agency action is ‘arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.’”  While the senates are not agencies, they are nonetheless agents of a system of government that is based on a balance of powers.

For that matter, the state law does not prohibit the Senate from decreeing that it will not consider gubernatorial appointments during the entire four or eight years a governor is in office. That’s taking the current situation to an absurd extent.  But absurdity is not impossible in politics today, particularly this year.

There is this factor, though: Once appointments are made by Governor Nixon and President Obama, the advantage in a campaign year might shift to Nixon or Obama—or to their political parties that do not occupy the majority of seats in either state or federal legislative bodies. The issue could become how long delays by the senates can continue before the voting public becomes convinced the senates are playing political games instead of doing an assigned duty, and how damaging such a perception could become to incumbent lawmakers facing the voters.

It would not be surprising if a number of average citizen were caused to see the refusal of the senates to give timely, fair, consideration to gubernatorial or presidential nominations of people in critical government positions as a violation of the principle of balance and falling well within the definition of “arbitrary, capricious (and) an abuse of discretion” or violations of terms of office.

And that brings us back to contempt.

The Pew Research Center last year found that only nineteen percent of the American public “can trust the government always or most of the time.”  The same survey found that 55% of those surveyed felt “ordinary Americans” could do a better job than elected officials of solving national problems. We keep hearing various experts opine that’s why we have Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Is it any wonder that Americans (and Missourians, of course, are among them) have so much contempt for those in elective office when those officers show contempt for the system they have pledged to uphold?



It is with profound regret that we inform those who are most strongly opposed to helping immigrants in any way that the time will come when this era is regarded in the same way we regard the eras when women and black people were not allowed to vote.  Time has a way of turning such issues into quaint although passionate history.

Horrific as it has been to some, this country has elected a black President.  Twice.  Horrific as it might be to some, this country could be electing a woman as President.

Someday, this increasingly diverse nation will elect someone to the presidency who was not born in this country and not born as an American citizen.  And one of those, perhaps someone targeted by this generation’s loudest political voices speaking against the evils of immigration, will become that President.

A few years ago, your friendly observer bought a book called America’s Unwritten Constitution to read while the Senate bored its way through a filibuster.  The author, Akhil Reed Amar, is a law and political science professor at Yale and sometimes is a visiting professor at Harvard, Pepperdine, and Columbia Universities.  The book blurb says he is “often cited by the Supreme Court and is a frequent expert witness in Congressional hearings.”

This probably is not a book that will be enjoyed by those who think the solution to all of our nation’s problems is to just read the U. S. Constitution and do what it says because Amar, among other things, looks not only at what it says, but also what the system of laws DOES that have evolved out of what it does NOT say but leaves open to developments in the years after the document was written.  It’s a big book but it’s about a big subject.  It emphasizes that our Constitution is a far more complicated document than those seeking simple answers in it are often willing to acknowledge.

But anyone thinking of getting into politics, as well as those now involved, should read it.  Here’s a warning, though:  It’s a thinkers’ book.  And not everybody in our political system today wants to think.

His last chapter carries the subtitle, “America’s Unfinished Constitution.”

“What should our future Constitution contain?” he asks. “If political and legal power in America today is in certain respects unfairly distributed, could the individuals and institutions currently benefiting from this unfair status quo ever be induced to support justice-seeking reforms?  Is it truly realistic to think that the future will overcome the iniquities of the present?”

He cautions against changes that would “radically reverse the trajectory of our constitutional story thus far, whereas others would fulfill the existing Constitution’s spirit.”  What is that spirit?

From the founding to the present, America’s written Constitution has traced a clear and remarkable trajectory, visible at every moment of enactment and amendment along the way.  With the ill-fated exception of Prohibition, none of its amendments has aimed to diminish liberty or reduce equality.  On the contrary, most amendments have expanded freedom and egalitarianism.

He suggests efforts to make flag-burning a crime or to “restrict the equality rights of same-sex couples” should be viewed skeptically.  But, he says, an amendment allowing certain immigrant Americans to seek the presidency “should be viewed more favorably, precisely because it would be a far better fitting next chapter to our unfolding constitutional saga.”

There is no doubt Americans could amend the constitution to criminalize flag-burning, “and thus repudiate the basic constitutional principle that sovereign, self-governing citizens have a robust right to mock basic symbols of government authority.”  Yes, American could amend the constitution to ban gay marriages, “and thereby constrict the scope of the grand idea that government should not demean a person because of his or her birth-status—because she was born out of wedlock or he was born black or she was born female or he was born gay.”

Amar testified at a Senate committee hearing in 2004 on a proposed constitutional amendment letting “long-standing naturalized citizens to run for President.”   Amar is the son of an immigrant and married to an immigrant.  He writes,

“Although the proposed amendment would surely change the existing rules, it would do so in a pro-immigrant direction—just as the Founders themselves changed older English rules in pro-immigrant ways. Indeed, I went a step further: Given that the reasons the eighteenth-century Founders themselves barred certain naturalized citizens from running for president no longer apply in the twenty-first century, modern Americans would best vindicate the spirit of the Constitution by formally amending it. I pointed out that the Founders’ Constitution was, by the standards of the day, hugely pro-immigrant.”

That might be news to some of today’s advocates of solving the nation’s problems by just reading the Constitution.   Amar points out that the writers of the Constitution had a background that included the English Act of Settlement that prohibited any naturalized citizen of England from serving in the Parliament or on the Privy Council, or in many other government positions.  But our Constitution “repudiated this tradition across the board.”  Reading the Founders’ Constitution shows no bars to immigrants serving in either house of Congress, in the cabinet, or anywhere in the federal judiciary.  In fact, seven of the 39 men who signed the Constitution were born in another country.  Eight of the first 81 members of Congress were immigrants.  Three of the first ten Supreme Court Justices were foreign-born.  Two thirds of the first six Secretaries of the Treasury and one of the first three Secretaries of War were immigrants.

Apart from Amar’s compilation, we might observe that none of the 39 men who signed the document began their lives as American citizens.  And this nation did not, in fact, have a President who was born in the United States until Martin Van Buren (1837-1841).  The first seven had been born British citizens.

Amar argues that the Founders did exclude immigrants from the Presidency “because some at the time feared that a scheming foreign earl or duke might cross the Atlantic with a huge retinue of loyalists and a boatload of European gold, and then try to bully or bribe his way into the presidency…In a young America…when a fledgling New World democracy was struggling to establish itself alongside an Old World dominated by monarchy and aristocracy, this ban on future foreign-born presidents made far more sense than it does in the twenty-first century.”

Thus, he argues, making more people eligible for the presidency vindicates the Founders’ immigration principles.  “by treating naturalized citizens as the full equals of natural-born citizens, and by allowing a person of obvious merit to overcome a legal impediment created merely because he or she was born in the wrong place at the wrong time or to the wrong parents, the proposed amendment would widen and deepen the grand principle of birth equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment.  By making a new class of Americans eligible to be president, the proposed amendment would also echo and extend the spirit of the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments, which entitled blacks and women not merely to vote on equal terms on Election Day but also to be voted for on equal terms and to vote and veto equally in matters of governance.’

He concludes, “I continue to believe today, that what the suffragist movement did for women, America should now do for naturalized citizens.  This country should be more than a land where everyone can grow up to be—governor.”

The sponsor of the proposed Amendment was Orrin Hatch, a conservative Republican from Utah.  Although the Amendment has not been sent to the states for ratification, Amar thinks its time is coming because the political parties “will find it politically advantageous to compete for the allegiance of immigrants and their allies, just as there were many past moments when both parties found it in their interest to demonstrate their liberality toward women and blacks.”

We are living in a hinge-point era of our nation’s history.  Just reading the Constitution is not enough as we see the face of America changing.  Understanding the Constitution is critical in these times of demands that we “diminish liberty and reduce equality.”

(America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By; New York, Basic Books, 2012.)

The egg and….

Betty MacDonald became a best-selling author in 1945 with her book, The Egg and I, the story of a young wife and her husband trying to run a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in the Northwest.  She sold the movie rights for $100,000 plus a percentage of profits from a film released in 1947 starring Claudette Colbert as MacDonald and Fred MacMurray as her husband.  The film included a couple of simple farm folk, Ma and Pa Kettle, played by Marjorie Main (who got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress) and Percy Kilbride.  The movie led to a series of spinoff Ma and Pa Kettle movies that folks with plenty of grey in their hair (whether they let it show or not) will remember.

The book and the movie left unanswered a fundamental biological question.  When we eat a fertilized egg, are we eating a chicken? We’ve checked with some chicken experts who say the answer is “no.”  And fertilized eggs are not more nutritious than unfertilized ones.

Today, we have a new “Egg and I” story being written at the Missouri Capitol.  There’s nothing humorous or rustic about it.  It’s more serious because we’re talking about people, not chickens. The fundamental biological, philosophical, and religious question of when an egg becomes a creature is at the heart of THIS “Egg and I” argument.

In the last few weeks of this legislative session, a lot of ink is being spread upon printed pages and words were spread upon the airwaves about a proposed constitutional amendment saying a person is created as soon as the sperm hits the egg. The state law already declares that life begins at conception but that’s not good enough for the pro-birth interests who are such a big constituency of the majority party.  Representative Mike Moon’s House Resolution will make it to the Senate but the Senate will have to go far out of its way to schedule a committee hearing, send the resolution to the floor for debate and then vote on it in the last five days of the session.  The Senate is not likely to risk losing a chance to vote on any number of things by taking up this bill.  Democrats are guaranteed to fire up the filibuster machine if it ever makes it to the floor.

So why is there so much noise about an issue that is unlikely to be passed?  Because it is important for the majority party to send a message in a campaign year that it’s loyal to the cause.  And, if nothing else, that’s what’s going on here.  The House has been in session since early January and only now has something seemingly this important had a committee hearing and gotten a committee vote and gotten to the floor for debate.

But as the session winds down and as the national picture for the majority party remains problematic, it’s important that the voting blocs supporting the party be kept engaged and reminded of who their friends are at the state level. Doing things to ease or eliminate the effects of possible negative coat tails from national November elections can’t be overlooked.  The super-majority could be at stake in these elections.  The steamroller will be harder to operate if the super-majority disappears.  And the national scramble (notice how cleverly we get back to the “egg” theme) raises the possibility that voters will reverse parties in some legislative districts.

House Joint Resolution 98 is a good flag to hoist before the session ends.

The resolution says that “all persons, including unborn human children at every stage of biological development, have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry.”  It pledges the state to protect such life from deprivation by the state or private action to the extent permitted by the federal constitution.”

But the next section of the proposed amendment seems on plain reading to be somewhat curious. “Nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion…The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or if necessary to save the life of the mother.” Opponents say the legislation is clearly unconstitutional and will be immediately challenged if it becomes part of the state constitution.

The first committee that recommended legislative passage of this proposal eliminated the last few words to would allow abortions in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.  Representative Rick Brattin did that because “all life is life regardless of how it was conceived.”  And Representative Tila Hubrecht she tells people who were conceived through rape, “There’s a reason for their life…Sometimes bad things happen…but sometimes God can give us a silver lining through the birth of a child.”  Minority party member Stacey Newman, not a fan of the idea to begin with, says the change makes the proposal “extremely punitive….placing many women in danger.”

Moon claims his proposal wouldn’t end abortions but will create the basis for future anti-abortion laws.  The other side says there’s no doubt about what he plans to do—stop abortions.

At least two states’ voters have rejected “personhood” proposals.  The judicial record is small but Oklahoma’s Supreme Court has thrown out “personhood” as an illegal ban on abortion.

But in an election year, on issues such as this, it’s the thought that counts. Majority lawmakers want to make sure important constituencies know they are thinking of them, a lot, even if the chief purpose of recent actions is to only look like something is being done.

The proposal has once again set us off in search of a definition. This time it’s “person.”

Although the word “person” is often found in our state statutes, there is no legal definition in Missouri law of what a “person’ is.  It appears this proposal could back into such a definition, however.  A person would be a fertilized human egg.   Gender, unknown.  Eye color, unknown.  Fingerprints, none. Number of hands, unknown.  Number of feet, unknown.  Heartbeat, unknown.

Egg equals person if this idea becomes part of the State Constitution.

We’ve checked some national legal directories for a definition of “person.”  West’s Encyclopedia of American Law says the definition is, “In general usage, a human being.”  But is says statutes can define the entity as “firms, labor organizations, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, or receivers.”  Foreign governments that can file lawsuits in this country are “persons” in certain circumstances.  The citation from West does not mention “egg.”

There appears in legal circles to be more than one definition.  There’s (1) natural person, (2) artificial person, and (3) legal person.  Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute in New York defines a “legal person” as a non-human entity, such as a corporation, which can sue or be sued, own property, and contract.  But the legal person cannot vote, marry, or hold public office (although we note, it can invest money in getting voters to do its bidding, and do the same with those elected to public office, and can invest money in passage of laws that—just to pluck an issue out of the air–limit marriage or protect those who don’t want to be involved in certain marriages or declare fertilized eggs are persons).  The definition of “artificial person” is a shading of the “legal person” definition.  An artificial person is “an entity established by law” that has some of the legal rights and duties as the fertilized egg in the Moon resolution.

And then we come to the “natural person,” a human being who is alive. States are able to give these human beings rights and duties without their consent.

And that’s what Representative Moon wants to do.  Without using the word “natural person,” he seeks to create such an entity and then, without the consent of the egg, give it limited rights.  We don’t see any indication in his resolution that he wants to give that egg any duties.

We say “limited rights” because the legislature already is on record saying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness depends on the religious beliefs of others once the fertilized egg emerges from the womb and grows up.

What if this “person” is in the belly of an illegal immigrant?  And suppose the egg emerges as a genuine human being?  Some legislatures want to say that the egg that Representatives Moon and Brattin want so lovingly to protect as a person regardless of any violence that accompanies the fertilization cannot be a citizen after they are born here and certainly cannot qualify for any scholarships at state colleges and universities.

Gotta respect the egg because it’s a person, you know, even if we don’t respect the person it becomes. Right to birth is one thing.  Real right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, and the right to enjoy the gains from their own industry, even if guaranteed in present law and in HJR 98, is more complicated although it, too, is subject to political games, particularly in election years when the games conveniently and selectively ignore that guarantee.

There are a lot of other issues connected to the personhood of the fertilized egg but there’s no reason to stretch this out longer, for now. We’ll get to them later if this bill somehow passes the Senate.  The bill will have done its job even if it goes nowhere farther into the process.  It has sent the loyalty message to certain constituents. And in an era where some grown-up fertilized eggs don’t care about anything else other than sending a message, that’s good enough.

The shoe is on the other foot

The chairman of the Special Senate Committee to Generate Headlines for a Senator Running for Attorney General is feeling some of the discomfort that comes from putting the right shoe on the left foot and the left shoe on the right foot, a circumstance that was made possible early in the nineteenth century when Philadelphia cobbler William Young perfected a way to make different shoes for the right and the left feet.

The advance in shoe-making became an American idiom a half-century later when shoe and boot-making progressed enough that different shoes for different feet were more common and an expression was born based on the what happens when situations are reversed.

So it is that Chairman Kurt Schaefer, a State Senator from Columbia with ambitions for greater glory, finds himself in the position of those he has spent months targeting—facing someone who considers him guilty unless he proves himself innocent.

Schaefer, whose SSGHSRAG has battered Planned Parenthood for months with allegations of selling aborted baby parts for research even to the point of threatening to jail the organization’s leader if she didn’t produce extensive records the organization considers protected by law, is now being accused of using his chairmanship to accede to corruption.  Now it is Schaefer, the hunter, who has become the hunted.  Now it is Schaefer who is calling allegations “ridiculous.”

The man Schaefer wants to succeed, Attorney General and governorship-hopeful Chris Koster, investigated the Planned Parenthood allegations months ago and found no evidence any Missouri affiliate of the organization had done any such parts-peddling, a finding Schaefer dismissed by accusing Koster of not looking hard enough.  He has maintained that position despite other investigations in more than a dozen states that also have found no wrongdoing and further, that undermine the credibility of the source of the reports.  Two people involved in producing the original accusatory video on which Schaefer and his committee began their lengthy proceedings have been indicted by a Texas grand jury.

Now Schaefer is feeling the same kind of accusatory pressure from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust that has asked a county prosecutor to consider a criminal charge against Schaefer.  FACT claims Schaefer used his position as Senate Appropriations Chairman to pressure the University of Missouri into keeping law professor Josh Hawley from running against him for Attorney General.

Schaefer claims the accusation has no basis in fact although former MU System President Tim Wolfe has written that Schaefer pressured him to cancel Hawley’s right to take a leave of absence from the faculty to challenge Schaefer’s candidacy.  The Kansas City Star has reported Schaefer says he talked to Wolfe because he wants to save taxpayers’ money, apparently a reference to Hawley’s salary. Some folks think Schaefer put out a lot of effort for something that is such a minuscule part of the University of Missouri budget.

The head of the organization filing the complaint is a former U. S. Attorney for the southern district of Iowa.  The organization also has other materials beyond Wolfe’s letter to support its accusation.  The Missouri Ethics Commission says the claim is beyond its authority to consider, putting the issue in the hands of local prosecutors.

The complaint also refers to the SSGHSRAG’s investigation of the University’s relationship in Columbia to Planned Parenthood.

Schaefer also is getting heat from a second not-for-profit group that has spent more than $100,000 in ads targeting Schaefer in Columbia and in Springfield, raising questions about Schaefer’s involvement in the Hawley leave issue.  The Public Integrity Alliance and FACT are organizations that do not have to reveal the source of their funding. Both deny any connection with Hawley and his campaign.  The PIA says its ads focus on Schaefer’s ethics.  Hawley disavows any connection to either organization.

The accusations from FACT have provoked great glee among people who have found Schaefer’s committee (actually it’s called the Sanctity of Life Committee) pummeling of Planned Parenthood excessive, to say the least.  Their social media sites exploded late last week when Schaefer moved a meet-and-greet session with supporters at a Columbia watering-hole to another place because the gathering also had become a gathering of anti-Schaeferites who followed him to the quickly-arranged second location.

But now he’s feeling some of the same heat he’s been dispensing.  And he proclaims it is unfair, as Planned Parenthood has complained his committee’s activities have been unfair.  Shoe.  Other foot.  Etc.  He can give it out but can he take it?

The FACT allegations also come at a bad time in his campaign and it would not be surprising if some of those involved weren’t hearing some echoes from 1992 when Attorney General bill Webster, running for Governor, found himself facing charges that he had abused his office by using state staff and equipment for campaign purposes.  He constantly denied any wrongdoing.

Webster won his primary election anyway, defeating outgoing Secretary of State Roy Blunt by 20,000 votes and outgoing State Treasurer Wendell Baily by 120,000.  But he lost in November to Mel Carnahan and later, after months of proclaiming his innocence, pleaded guilty to federal felony charges.

It is not proper to try to draw too many parallels between then and now, at least not at this point.  But suddenly finding the shoe is on the other foot surely is not something Schaefer anticipated and is likely to add an uncomfortable factor to his campaign against Hawley.