Dear Governor Parson:
Another legislative session has ended and Missouri is no closer to rooting out dark money's influence in Jefferson City. I am writing this letter to ask that you join me in cleaning up Jefferson City's culture of corruption.
To illustrate the reality of dark money's influence in state government, you need look no further than the legislation dealing with sexual assault on college campuses that advanced through both chambers in your first year as Governor. Media reports uncovered a trail of correspondence strategizing about this matter between lawmakers and the lobbyist who formed the dark money group behind this legislation.
While that legislation did not ultimately advance to your desk, the General Assembly did pass House Bill 1088. This legislation shrinks the pool of competitive contracts available to Missouri businesses and individuals, reduces the number of bids required to be publicly advertised, and no longer requires state government to advertise bids publicly unless the contract is $100,000 or greater. Perhaps most concerning, slipped in was a provision for "the use of shortlisting" of contract proposals with no parameters for when shortlisting should be considered, making its potential use discretionary to all state contracts.
As a certified public accountant and fraud examiner, I know what can create the conditions for public corruption. You can take action to address these troubling developments.
Last June when you became Governor, we discussed the shadow of dark money over our state and the need to restore the trust of Missouri citizens in their government. I was encouraged by our meeting, specifically our conversation that taxpayers deserve to know how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent, and whether their government is handing out earmarked contracts to donors.
Regardless of whether you sign House Bill 1088, I hope that you consider my letter of last year outlining how to eliminate the problem of dark money in government contracting via your executive action.
Prior to Governor Greitens, governors have ensured fairness in government contracting by issuing executive orders. Examples include MBE/WBE percentage targets (Executive Orders 98-21 and 05-30), disclosure of offshore services by vendors (Executive Order 04-09), and certification of legal citizens employed (Executive Order 07-13). You could issue an executive order immediately to ensure transparency when it comes to the role of dark money in securing government contracts.
My legislation, The Transparency in Government Contracting Act, serves as a guide for such an executive order.The language would require any person or company entering into a state contract for more than $5,000 to disclose annual payments greater than $500 made to a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization, no later than the effective date of the contract. Additionally, anyone with more than a 10 percent interest in the contracting company also would be required to disclose payments greater than $500 to such a not-for-profit. These reforms are simple steps to establishing greater integrity in Missouri's contracting process.
I recall you stating at the conclusion of your State of the State Address that, "If it is to be, it is up to us." Missourians deserve a transparent, honest, and efficient government. We can only do that by ridding the shadow of dark money and its corrupting influence on state government. I hope you will join me in this effort, because it is up to us.
Nicole Galloway, CPA