Republicans weigh in on consultant ban

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | 7:30 p.m. CDT; updated 3:11 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has issued a challenge to the state Republican Party, a challenge that has garnered support from lawmakers ­­— and even those who hope to get his job.

While traveling around the state Tuesday to campaign for his re-election, Kinder urged Republicans to first endorse and then commit to adopting a ban prohibiting elected officials from serving as political consultants for others’ campaigns.

Kinder said that he was not focused on a specific candidate and was most concerned with earning back the public’s faith in the way business is done at the capital. Currently, there is an ethical gray area.

“The temptation is go down the road toward commingling public trust with private interests,” Kinder said.

He said that he had “stewed” over making this proposal for months and that he thought about bringing it up at the state Republican convention in May. Instead, he chose to travel around the state Tuesday, stopping in Springfield, Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis, to step forward on this singular issue “in hopes that others will join.”

Kinder, who is seeking re-election to a four-year term as lieutenant governor, has two Republican opponents in the Aug. 5 primary. Both said Tuesday that they believe Kinder’s proposal is the right course of action.

Paul Sims of Lecoma said that since Kinder is a leader in the Republican party, he should be stepping forward on the ethics issue. He also said that the duty of the person elected to serve is simple.

“If you are in office, you are supposed to be doing the work of the people, not working to get some one else elected,” Sims said.

Arthur Hodge Sr., Kinder’s opponent from Springfield, agrees.

“We could learn a lot from the Romans and the Greeks,” Hodge said. “I think people should be statesmen and not politicians. It’s a conflict of interest.”

The idea of statesmanship might be an ancient one, but Hodge said it has a place in present times.

“We need a person in office who is honest, caring, loving and concerned about the people and not themselves,” Hodge said. “They have a job, and once they are done with it, they return to private life.”

Sims also hopes the ban on office-holders acting as political consultants would attract a more diverse field of candidates for public office.

“I could see it working,” Sims said. “It might have the possibility of bringing new people up without being tainted by the political process.”

While the specifics of the proposal are not yet known, Kinder said he wants to hear what others have to say before “putting the meat on the bones.”

Their are seven other candidates for lieutenant governor. Democrats in the race are Sam Page of Creve Coeur, Michael E. Carter of St. Charles, Richard Tolbert of Kansas City, Becky Plattner of Grand Pass, Mary Williams of Jefferson City, and C. Lillian Metzger of Troy. Teddy Fleck of Springfield is running as an independent.

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John Schultz July 2, 2008 | 2:59 a.m.

No, Teddy Fleck is running as a Libertarian.

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