- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Kansas City Star, June 3

Last December, the Osage Nation of Oklahoma wrote two checks to the Committee for a New Missouri, the dark money nonprofit set up to help pay for Gov. Eric Greitens’ January inauguration.

The donations - first revealed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch - totaled $52,700.

The tribe wanted a good relationship with the incoming governor, its leader said. Oh, and Osage Nation operates seven gaming casinos in Oklahoma and just might be interested in building another facility in Missouri.

That facility would need the approval of Missouri’s governor. Under existing federal law, he must conclude a casino would be “in the best interest of the Indian tribe and its members” for the application to move forward.

The story clearly demonstrates why it’s so important to know where political money is coming from. If the tribe proceeds with its Missouri casino effort - and Greitens gives his approval - we can all fairly decide whether his judgment was influenced by the contribution.

Yet we know of the inaugural donation only because the Osage Nation made it public, and a newspaper wrote the story.

To date, the governor and his enablers have rejected all requests to reveal the other sources of his inaugural funds or the contributors to a related dark money outfit now engaged in a bitter feud with some Republicans in the legislature.

The governor deeply misunderstands a basic principle of transparent government. In a recent interview, he compared secret political money with the secret ballot.

“When people go in and they vote, nobody calls that dark voting,” the governor said.

Yikes. The secret ballot is acceptable, governor, because all votes are equal. On Election Day, the poorest Missourian has as much power as St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield.

But not all political contributions are created equal. A $1 million or $2 million donation means more to an elected official than a $5 contribution or no donation at all.

The big contributor buys access. He or she buys votes in the legislature or perhaps the governor’s veto pen. Maybe big donations can buy a casino, or a big electricity rate hike, or a government contract.

That’s why transparency matters in matters of politics and money. And that’s why dark money nonprofits are a clear and present danger to self-government and must be resisted at every opportunity.

It’s fashionable for some politicians to claim money is the same thing as speech and say it should be unrestricted and anonymous under the First Amendment. Let’s be clear: If the Osage Nation wanted to spend $50,000 praising Gov. Greitens or boosting a casino campaign it would have the right to do so.

That isn’t what happened here. The tribe gave money to a committee affiliated with a governor who has a regulatory impact on the tribe’s affairs. And the governor wanted to keep that donation secret.

In 2010, former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia understood what that meant. Without public political disclosure, he wrote, “democracy is doomed.”

We concur. We hope the governor and Missouri lawmakers can join in that opinion.


St. Joseph News-Press, June 4

Effective June 1, Missouri’s new requirements for presenting enhanced identification at the polling place are in effect. It’s regrettable opponents are wasting time complaining about this outcome rather than helping spread the word about steps anyone can take to comply.

Constitutional Amendment 6, allowing for implementation of photo voter ID, received support from nearly two-thirds of voters in the last election. These voters understood this would require a time of transition but the goal was worthy: to protect the integrity of the ballot box.

It did not matter to these voters whether voter fraud had been widespread in the recent past. They saw the proposed standard as a commonsense improvement to existing laws.

At the risk of seeming far out of the mainstream, the Missouri Democratic Party leadership launched a broad attack last week - calling the voting rules “an unacceptable attempt . to roadblock Missourians on their way to the ballot box.”

Jay Ashcroft, the Republican secretary of state, understandably bristled at that charge, recognizing a politically motivated effort to undermine him as he launches a statewide voter education tour this week.

What’s worse, attacks like these undermine bipartisan support for our elections process - this despite that fact that the numbers show members of both parties accepted the new requirement as the right thing to do.

Ashcroft will be in Columbia and Kirksville this morning before making a swing through Northwest Missouri in the afternoon. He will appear at 3 p.m. at the Nodaway County Administration Center in Maryville and at 5:30 p.m. at the Downtown branch of the St. Joseph Public Library.

Ashcroft describes his trip as a Voter ID Informational Tour that will allow him to give clear and accurate guidance about the new law and assist anyone who needs to register to vote.

His consistent message is and has been, “If you’re registered to vote, you can vote.”

Ashcroft previously detailed voters’ options, including showing a government-issued photo ID; signing a statement and presenting another form of identification; or casting a provisional ballot.

For more information, visit the website ShowIt2Vote.com or call the toll-free help line, 866-868-3245.


Joplin Globe, June 4

We made a commitment as a nation to care for those who have served in our military. We recently took a step to ensure that promise is kept.

Veterans in the Joplin area will have a new health care choice soon.

A veterans outpatient clinic is planned at 3015 S. Connecticut Ave. in Joplin. The new clinic, to open in 2018, will operate in conjunction with a Springfield clinic already under construction, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The two clinics are expected to expand access to about 9,000 veterans in the region within a 30-minute drive.

“We’ve been fighting to get a clinic here for many years, and I’m excited that it’s finally going to happen,” said state Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, and chairman of the House Veterans Committee, in a Globe story published Tuesday. “I think, all in all, our veterans are going to be much better served with a facility here.”

He is right. The VA got this right.

The VA is required by law to provide needed hospital care and outpatient care services to eligible veterans. Nationally, the VA has had trouble serving veterans in a timely manner.

This clinic will make care more accessible for area veterans. It should mean that those who served will be cared for more quickly as well as closer to home.

“Our veterans deserve the highest quality of care regardless of where they live,” said U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in a news release. McCaskill, the daughter of a World War II veteran and senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “It’s a good thing the VA is listening and responding to the needs of Southwest Missouri’s veterans, especially those in rural areas.”

Our veterans have given so much for the United States. It is important that our nation give back to them. This clinic will be part of that.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 5

Sympathy and support are the only proper responses to the horrors that befell Londoners on Saturday night, following close upon the May 22 carnage in Manchester, England. The two attacks wrought a heavy toll, killing at least 29 and injuring more than 160.

Britons don’t need President Donald Trump to make their problems worse with half-baked tweets and uninformed reactions to overseas events. Trump sought to capitalize politically off the Saturday attack with an embarrassing Twitter tirade. If America’s leader constantly presents himself as an internet troll and laughingstock, he shouldn’t expect the world to respect him.

Saturday’s attack was clearly the work of Islamist fanatics. Trump wasted no time suggesting in multiple tweets that the attack justified his executive orders banning immigration from six Muslim countries.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, urged Londoners to remain vigilant but not to be unnerved by heavy security around the city. “My message to Londoners and visitors to our great city is to be calm and vigilant today,” he said. “You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers. There is no reason to be alarmed by this.”

Trump either didn’t read the entire statement or chose to deliberately advertise his ignorance by tweeting: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” He later doubled down, labeling Khan’s statement as “pathetic.”

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway went on television to dismiss the controversy as the news media “obsessing” over Trump’s tweets. Paying attention to the president’s statements, even the gross exaggerations and fact-free fabrications, is the job, not an obsession.

This president risks inflicting serious damage to relations with America’s closest allies with his irresponsible, shoot-from-the-hip commentaries. His lawyers have asked Trump to stop, but he ignores them.

Trump repeatedly has undermined the legal case for his immigration ban. During the campaign, Trump specifically called for a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants. Because of that, multiple courts have invalidated his executive orders on immigration.

In January, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump had made it “very clear that this is not a Muslim ban, it’s not a travel ban. It’s a vetting system to keep America safe.”

On Monday, Trump went wild with tweets accusing the Justice Department of watering down his executive order and adopting “politically correct” wording to reduce court objections. He tweeted: “I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!”

Conway’s own husband, lawyer George Conway, once a candidate to be Trump’s solicitor general, tweeted that Trump had made the job more difficult for his lawyers. “Sad,” he wrote.

It is sad. Trump is marching toward self-destruction. If his aides can’t stop him, perhaps they should get out of the way.

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