Governor Nixon has become the embodiment of an observation attributed to Abraham Lincoln:
The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.
The Republican Party sent word around the other day that on the day Governor Nixon called for reinstating campaign contribution limits he had gotten a $10,000 donation from a company that has received $42 million from the state in recent years. The company is Worldwide Technologies, which provides computer services to state government. That contract comes up for renewal at the end of this short month. The company’s president was the speaker at the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast the day after the legislature began this year’s session.
Allegations of “pay to play” are not uncommon at the Capitol. Republicans have accused the Nixon administration of swapping appointments or arranging state contracts in return for political support. Democrats did the same thing when Matt Blunt was the Governor.
Worldwide Technologies has told the Associated Press the money was intended to help pay for some inauguration expenses, most of which we were told were paid for with leftover Nixon gubernatorial campaign funds.
Republicans in the legislature are the ones who created the present campaign donation system of unlimited donations and loopholes that allow big bucks donors to hide their identities if they want to. But the rules don’t apply only to Republicans. Democrats can play by the same rules, and have. If the choice is between playing by rules you don’t like or getting clobbered because you take a nobler approach, most competitors will play by rules they don’t like. And politics is high-stakes no-holds-barred competition.
The Governor introduced several people during his speech, using them to put a face on some of the points he was making in advocating for his legislative package. Maybe he missed a golden opportunity by not introducing one more. Perhaps as he was addressing the need to reform campaign finance laws he should have said, “Earlier today, we received a $10,000 donation from World Wide Technologies. Company President David Steward is in the gallery tonight. Would you stand, David, so we can recognize the great example you have set for our deliberations of this important part of the democratic process?”
But because he didn’t do that, Nixon left the door open for some people to connect some dots and reach a conclusion that something is wrong. Now we will wait to see if the dot-connectors do something other than point fingers.
To paraphrase Lincoln, “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to use it to your advantage.”
By mid-May the Missourinet will have reported whether all of this amounts to anything.