The St. Louis Cardinals are coming to town to face the Royals. It should be a great weekend — both teams are playing well, which is a minor miracle.
The Cardinals’ performance is a welcome distraction for a city that could use some good news. St. Louis has had a rough year — Ferguson, of course, but more recent scandals in Missouri politics also have important St. Louis connections.
The Tom Schweich tragedy was clearly centered in St. Louis. Schweich lived there and his perceived political foes, Catherine Hanaway and John Hancock, are St. Louisans.
Hanaway has received $1 million in campaign contributions from Rex Sinquefield, a St. Louisan, while Schweich collected money from millionaire Sam Fox, who also lives in St. Louis. Former senator Jack Danforth, who bitterly attacked Schweich’s opponents, is a St. Louis lawyer.
Disgraced former House speaker John Diehl, who resigned after his scandalous text messages with an intern were published by The Star, lives in the St. Louis suburbs.
It would be easy to see these St. Louis connections as a coincidence. They are not.
Every community, including Kansas City, has its share of political scandal. But a combination of big money, ambition and — let’s just say it — arrogance makes the politics in St. Louis particularly messy.
Diehl’s telephone relationship with an intern, for example, suggests a sense of entitlement popular among some St. Louis area elites.
The feeling persists.
“Isn’t it important to have someone from the St. Louis area in … leadership spots?” a conservative publisher asked soon after Diehl quit. “It is the economic engine of the state. Politically, it’s the biggest media market. Fundraising, it’s where most of the money comes from.”
That sense of entitlement, familiar to anyone who has ever talked with a St. Louis politician, can easily spill into bad personal choices. When millions of dollars are thrown into the mix — as they often are in St. Louis politics — the clash of interests and egos can turn brutal. And tragic.
Missouri lawmakers slashed programs for the poor this year but stayed silent on plans to borrow $300 million for a new St. Louis football stadium. Diehl is believed to have played a major role in quieting dissenters within the Republican caucus so St. Louis could get the stadium money without a vote. He may have thought the city is entitled to the cash.
Gov. Jay Nixon is on board. I’m guessing he moves to St. Louis when his term is over.