Government & Politics

Greitens gives post to state senator who has been harsh critic

State Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, is in line for a nomination by Gov. Eric Greitens to the Missouri Public Service Commission.
State Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, is in line for a nomination by Gov. Eric Greitens to the Missouri Public Service Commission.

Gov. Eric Greitens has appointed one of his most vocal critics in the Missouri legislature to the state’s Public Service Commission.

State Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, won a second four-year term in the state Senate in 2016. If he’s confirmed to the commission by his fellow senators, he would serve a six-year term and earn a $109,000 annual salary.

Greitens announced the appointment Tuesday evening.

“I am pleased to appoint Senator Silvey as a member of the PSC,” Greitens said in a statement. “He understands the need for all Missourians to have access to reliable and affordable energy.”

The Public Service Commission regulates investor-owned electric, natural gas, steam, water and sewer utilities.

Silvey would bring years of legislative experience, having previously served eight years in the Missouri House, including a stint as chairman of the budget committee. In the Senate, he chairs the committee that oversees energy and the environment.

“I am honored to be appointed by the governor to this position of public trust,” Silvey said in a statement. “Gov. Greitens understands that Missouri’s energy rates continue to climb while our infrastructure deteriorates. He is a forward thinker, committed to addressing difficult problems like this in proactive way.”

The kinds words about each other are a break from a year of icy relations between Silvey and Greitens. By appointing Silvey to the PSC, Greitens is removing from the Senate someone who has been a thorn in the governor’s side since he took office last year.

Silvey routinely criticized Greitens’ reliance on so-called dark money — campaign contributions routed through nonprofits to conceal the origin of the money. He was part of a bipartisan group of senators who called for the creation of special legislative committee to investigate whether the governor engaged in illegal activity during his 2016 campaign as well as during his time as governor.

“We can no longer turn a blind eye to the unprecedented games being played by Gov. Greitens and his political machine,” Silvey said last year. “You can’t ignore possible unethical behavior by the governor or his campaign, just because you share the same party label. Missourians deserve to know what happened and it’s the duty of the Senate to find out.”

When the legislature was called into special session to work on tougher regulations on abortion while the governor attended a political event in Colorado, Silvey said, “it’s good to know (Gov. Greitens) found the time to share the wealth of governing knowledge he’s gained from 6 months in office with the good people of Aspen, Colorado.”

For his part, when Greitens signed legislation putting Missouri into compliance with the federal Real ID law, he didn’t invite Silvey, despite the fact that he was the bill’s sponsor.

Silvey will continue to serve in the Senate until he’s confirmed. The governor will then call a special election to fill his vacant seat.

Among the names being floated as possible successors in the Clay County Senate district are Republican Rep. Kevin Corlew of Kansas City and Democratic Reps. Lauren Arthur and John Carpenter of Kansas City and Democratic Rep. Mark Ellebracht of Liberty.

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock

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