Missouri’s universities are unanimously opposed to bills in the House and Senate that would overhaul Title IX, but a lobbyist leading the fight for those bills — and who helped draft the House version — represents one of those schools.
Richard McIntosh, a longtime Jefferson City lobbyist, is working behind the scenes of the Capitol to transform the sexual misconduct and anti-discrimination policies of Missouri universities with a dark-money group that he founded called Kingdom Principles. It has hired 20 lobbyists in the last week.
Lincoln University in Jefferson City is a client of McIntosh’s and two of the other Kingdom Principles lobbyists.
A school spokeswoman, Misty Young, declined Friday to comment on the apparent conflict of interest posed by lobbyists who are paid by Lincoln and promote legislation the school opposes.
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But she affirmed the school’s position on the bills.
“Lincoln University stands with other Council on Public Higher Education member institutions in asking state lawmakers to withhold any decisions on Title IX changes until the U.S. Department of Education has completed its revisions of Title IX rules and procedures,” Young said in an email.
McIntosh started the Kingdom Principles as a 501(c)(4) non-profit last fall. Such organizations are known as dark-money groups because they don’t have to disclose donors. One of them, a spokesman for the group confirmed this week, is St. Louis billionaire David Steward — a former curator for the University of Missouri System and current trustee of Washington University.
Both schools oppose the Title IX bills.
Kingdom Principles, in turn, is funding the Missouri Campus Due Process Coalition, which is polling and running ads in favor of the legislation.
In a phone call, coalition spokesman Greg Keller said he would respond only by e-mail to written questions. He did not answer queries about the extent or nature of his group’s funding. Instead he explained why the group supports the legislation and cited numbers from a poll the group had conducted.
“Due to the Obama Administration’s mandate on American college campuses our students can be prosecuted, hauled before a tribunal, subjected to unconstitutional standards of guilt and innocence, expelled and have their lives ruined, all for asking someone on a date,” Keller wrote.
Title IX administrators from public and private schools and the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education testified at public hearings against the House and Senate bills. They described the proposals as wrong-headed and unnecessary, potentially harming victims of sexual violence and forcing school officials to choose between following federal or state law.
JP Hasman, associate general counsel for Saint Louis University, wrote in a letter to the Senate bill’s sponsor that the legislation was unconstitutional and put federal funding for Missouri universities at risk.
One provision of the bills would divert appeals in Title IX cases from internal university proceedings to the State of Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC), a court for state executive agencies.
Audrey Hanson McIntosh, wife of Richard, is one of three commissioners on the AHC. Another is married to an attorney who has testified in favor of the revisions at House and Senate hearings.
Last spring, McIntosh lobbied Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-St. Louis County, at the end of the legislative session to attach the Title IX changes as an amendment to an unrelated bill. He did, but the amendment ultimately was not adopted.
Rep. Dean Dohrman, R-La Monte, introduced the House version of the Title IX bill this session. He said in a Thursday interview that he has known McIntosh for years and they worked together to draft the bill.
The bill contains an emergency clause, so it would go into effect immediately upon signing. Laws passed in the legislative session typically go into effect in late August. Dohrman said the clause exists so the law could preempt any cases that are before courts already.
“It should already have been there, so we’ll put in an emergency clause and get it done as soon as possible,” he said.