Editorials

Missouri lobbyist tried to gut Title IX protections to help son. He almost got away with it

What is Title IX, and how has it evolved in American schools over the years?

Title IX was signed into law in 1972 and was initially aimed to address gender inequality in sports. Here's how the law got started, and how it expanded over the years.
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Title IX was signed into law in 1972 and was initially aimed to address gender inequality in sports. Here's how the law got started, and how it expanded over the years.

Move over, cheating Hollywood parents accused of buying your kids’ way into college. Because for gall and lack of good sense, even you must bow to Jefferson City lobbyist Richard McIntosh, whose machinations could have won a reprieve for his expelled son — in a process that would have been overseen by McIntosh’s wife. Who is, yes, the ousted young man’s mother.

While you movie stars were allegedly breaking the law — amateurs! — McIntosh was trying to buy a new one. Had it worked, his son’s ejection from Washington University could have been appealed to the state Administrative Hearing Commission, where Audrey Hanson McIntosh is the presiding and managing commissioner.

And all in the name of due process. Isn’t dark money great?

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It was after McIntosh’s son was accused and then kicked out last year, through the school’s disciplinary process under Title IX, the federal law against sexual discrimination in education, that the lobbyist began pushing to make Missouri the most favorable state in the country for those accused of committing sexual violence on campus.

McIntosh, whose long list of clients includes Cerner and Cisco, started a dark money group called Kingdom Principles to change the way Missouri universities enforce Title IX. The group was funded in part by his longtime client, the St. Louis billionaire David Steward, who is on the Washington University Board of Trustees.

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A virtual army of lobbyists — 29 of them — have been pushing the legislation. Kingdom Principles also funded ads and polling.

Asked about his son’s expulsion, McIntosh referred all questions to his lawyer, Matthew Jacober, who again on Wednesday said he had no comment. If there is a story of a young man wrongly accused, we invite him to tell it.

But instead of going public, McIntosh tried to rewrite public policy the old-fashioned way, with money and influence wielded behind closed doors.

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His initial effort in 2018, an amendment to an unrelated bill, would have allowed his son to appeal the result of his Title IX hearing to the commission overseen by his wife. Encouraged by McIntosh, Rep. Shamed Dogan introduced that amendment, which was later cut out of the bill. But if at first you don’t succeed, you knock on some other door.

So before the session that started this January, McIntosh asked a friend, Rep. Dean Dohrman, to sponsor a stand-alone bill, Dohrman told The Star last month.

The original version of that legislation would have allowed those suspended or expelled for Title IX violations, including those whose cases had already been decided, to appeal to the administrative court where McIntosh’s wife presides. It also contained an emergency clause that would have made the measure effective immediately.

Why the hurry? Surely those pushing the bill weren’t trying to get it passed before anyone knew where it came from.

University officials opposed it as unconstitutional and designed to keep victims quiet. Victims’ advocates were especially concerned about provisions that would have allowed those accused of sexual assault to sue their accusers and schools for damages. And as originally written, with the help of McIntosh himself, the bill would have allowed lawyers to cross-examine sexual assault survivors about their sexual history.

The emergency clause, provisions for suing and for cross-examining complainants were later removed from the measure by Rep. David Gregory, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The retroactivity clause was removed, too, before it was voted out of committee. Though it could still be put to a vote, it hasn’t been put on the calendar. Last week, Democrats filibustered the Senate version of the bill.

Now that The Star has revealed McIntosh’s brazen efforts to push through bills from which his family stood to directly benefit, it will be harder to slip the guts of this bill into other legislation as an amendment.

This well-funded effort could still pay off at some point. But if it’s on the up-and-up, why weren’t we ever supposed to know who was paying for it, and why?

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