- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley wasn’t trying to pressure a group of political appointees to contribute to his campaign when he told them that workers in their positions traditionally donate 1 percent of their annual salary during election years, a close aide said.

Dooley, a Democrat, wasn’t telling the roughly 50 political appointees he and his campaign staff met with in Clayton last week that they were required to donate, said his spokeswoman, Pat Washington. Dooley and his campaign manager, Damion Trasada, spoke of the 1 percent figure in response to worker questions about typical contributions, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1k7X9Aw ).

“It wasn’t trotting everybody into a dungeon and having them take their coins out of their purses,” Washington said. “His comments were the result of questions that were raised that night. There were several different questions about what is appropriate to contribute.”

Political appointees, who include department heads and workers in rank-and-file positions, don’t have the same job protections of civil servants hired by the county. Missouri law prohibits employers from compelling “any member or employee as a condition of membership or employment (to) contribute to any candidate, political committee or separate political fund.”

In St. Louis, those in power have long collected a percentage of political appointees’ salaries to help fund their campaigns, in a practice known as “the lug.”

Since 2006, Dooley’s campaign has received about $43,000 in donations from county workers, according to a Post-Dispatch review of election records.

“It’s not unusual for any political office,” Washington said. “This is just politics. That’s what you do.”

Missouri Ethics Commission officials said Monday that Dooley’s meeting would not prompt an investigation unless someone who was present filed a complaint.

Dooley faces County Councilman Steve Stenger in an August Democratic primary.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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