In Jefferson City, lawmakers in the Republican majority routinely defy the will of their own voters — on a right-to-work law, on minimum wage increases and on ethics reform. But that blur visible just above the bluffs of the Missouri is them hopping right to it when the bosses they care about call.
One of these unelected master legislators is Richard McIntosh, the lobbyist whose dark-money outfit, Kingdom Principles, is pushing to rewrite the anti-discrimination Title IX policies of Missouri universities to favor the accused.
Actually, that understates McIntosh’s role, as he helped write the House version of the bill himself.
His handiwork would give those accused of sexual harassment, assault or discrimination at Missouri universities more control over the process than in any other state in the nation. The legislation he helped write is retroactive, so it could reopen closed cases. And it’s so punitive to victims that it would be a great draw for aspiring perps from around the country.
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McIntosh is so good at what he does that both sides are paying him: Even as he’s lobbying your duly elected representatives to gut Title IX protections, he’s also working for one of the schools that, like all the others, opposes the proposed changes as unconstitutional, unnecessary and a pointless risk of federal dollars.
The dark-money group hired 20 lobbyists in the last week alone and is itself funded in part by St. Louis billionaire David Steward, co-founder and chairman of the information technology provider World Wide Technology.
Kingdom Principles, in turn, is bankrolling the Missouri Campus Due Process Coalition, which is polling and running ads in favor of the legislation it helped write.
And the conflicts of interest don’t end with McIntosh himself: The proposed bills would send appeals in Title IX cases from internal university proceedings to the State of Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission, a court for state executive agencies.
McIntosh’s wife, Audrey Hanson McIntosh, is one of three commissioners on the commission. Another of the commissioners is married to an attorney who has testified in favor of the changes.
Rep. Dean Dohrman, the Republican from La Monte who introduced the House version, said he has known McIntosh for years and acknowledged that they wrote the bill together. He said he’ll be taking criticism into account as the legislation moves forward. But tweaks won’t do when the whole effort is misbegotten.
We’ve already written about how bad these bills are and have pointed out that if either of the proposed measures passed, a federal law that’s supposed to prevent discrimination against women would instead be used to discriminate against them.
Lobbyists for this effort claim it’s needed to restore due process to the accused, but when due process is denied now, it’s because Title IX is not being applied correctly rather than because it is.
The answer is most certainly not to codify the still much more common situation in which victims feel they have no recourse, and that’s what this bill would effectively do.
It could go so far as to make it possible for the accused to successfully sue a victim for filing a complaint, even if the assault happened but the accused student was for whatever reason found “not responsible.”
In essence, the accused would become a protected class — as the direct result of a dark-money group founded by a law-writing lobbyist working both sides of the street.
On both process and substance, lawmakers should look again at the human and financial harm that would come of the well-funded but unprincipled bill they’ve been so misleadingly sold by Kingdom Principles.