The latest revelation came from state Sen. Rob Schaaf, a St. Joseph Republican, who pointed out that the no-bid contract Greitens awarded to Express Scripts to start a prescription-drug monitoring program raises all manner of red flags.
Most troubling, Schaaf noted that Express Scripts gave Greitens a $25,000 campaign donation in December (the company backed Democrat Chris Koster prior to election day). Express Scripts also helped finance Greitens’ inauguration. Greitens has refused to say how much each donor gave to that event.
“It just has the look of impropriety about it,” Schaaf said in an interview. “Whenever somebody takes money from an entity and doesn’t disclose the amount, then gives that entity a big government contract, there’s always a potential for corruption.”
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In fact, Greitens went out of his way to ensure that the public didn’t know who financed his big inaugural celebration, forming a nonprofit to seek out donors. Nonprofits aren’t required to disclose donor names. They also aren’t subject to the donation limits that voters approved in the same election that resulted in Greitens becoming governor.
The Express Scripts revelation amounts to yet another disappointment at the hands of a governor who pledged to clean up Missouri politics. Instead, he continues to play the game like it has always been played, handing out goodies to deep-pocketed special interests.
Moments after he became the state’s 56th governor, he signed an executive order banning administration employees from accepting lobbyist gifts. That night, the governor danced to “Missouri Waltz” at a ball paid for by corporations and lobbyists.
That was a bad omen, and things have only gotten worse. Just last week The Star reported that the governor’s nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc., donated $250,000 to a political action committee that’s working to protect Missouri’s new right-to-work law.
Where that $250,000 came from may never be known.
This is what happens when voters try to wring money out of politics. Insiders like Greitens find ways to get around donation limits. The forming of nonprofits does the trick quite nicely.
Instead of leading on ethics, Greitens is now leading the way around the new limits. It’s a lousy way to govern.
That said, let’s give Greitens credit for admitting at least one mistake. Last week he reversed course on a 1.5 percent cut to foster-care families that he had once approved.
“When something goes wrong … we fix it,” Greitens said.
Good for him, although some lawmakers are questioning his right to unilaterally reverse a budget decision. The cut had confounded many in the foster-care arena because Greitens had championed their cause.
Now, if only the governor would reconsider other steps he has taken, like calling needless special sessions and reversing himself on ethics.