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UPDATE: Ticketmate raises questions about inspector general proposal

Monday, October 6, 2008 | 7:29 p.m. CDT; updated 8:15 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 6, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Republican gubernatorial candidate and Congressman Kenny Hulshof's plans to create an inspector general position were not met with a full embrace by Senator Mike Gibbons, the Republican candidate for attorney general.

Hulshof said in a news conference held Monday morning that the inspector general would be a nonpartisan attorney with the power to bring criminal cases against the government.

According to information released by the Hulshof campaign, the inspector general would be chosen by a board comprised of members from the Missouri Board of Prosecuting Attorneys, Missouri Police Chief's Association, Missouri Sheriff's Association, Missouri Judicial Conference and a retired Supreme Court justice. The inspector general would be allowed to serve only one three-year term.

While Gibbons, R-St. Louis County, supports the creation of an inspector general position and Hulshof's focus on government ethics, he disagreed with some points of the proposal.

Gibbons said the inspector general should not have the power to file criminal charges against the government and should be elected by the public, rather than appointed by the board.

Additionally, he disagrees with Hulshof's plan that would require legislative approval for contingent fee contracts over $100,000 because it makes the process too political.

"I don't think that adding a layer of political wrangling is helpful, but otherwise I'm very supportive of his thoughts," Gibbons said.

Besides detailing the role of the inspector general, Hulshof said he would require the attorney general to document outsourced work, propose that contracts over $20,000 would be open to bidding and place a limit on the pay rate of outsourced work to $1,000 per hour.

Although Gibbons said he was aware the Hulshof campaign was going to make an announcement about its ethics proposal, he was unaware of plans to create an inspector general position and was not contacted for input.

Oren Shur, the spokesman for Jay Nixon, the Democratic candidate for governor and current attorney general, said Hulshof's announcement is a character attack from a congressman who is down in the polls and is starting to panic.

Hulshof criticized Nixon's role in 1998 settlements with the tobacco industry and said the current attorney general hired lawyers for the lawsuit who made $3,000 an hour.

Shur said the Democratic candidate for governor forced the tobacco industry to pay the attorney fees in the 1998 settlement.

"He took on big tobacco and won billions of dollars for the taxpayers of Missouri at no cost to taxpayers," Shur said.

Hulshof said he received outsource contracts from the attorney general, but that his in-court fees were only $100 an hour.

"I provided the documentation, even though there was no requirement," he said. "I made sure that every hour of work was justified."

Zac Wright, Missouri Democratic Party spokesman, stated in a news release that trusting Hulshof to make state government more accountable would be ludicrous.

"Congressman Hulshof has yet to condemn Gov. Blunt's cover ups and delayed action in the sexual harassment case of Fred Ferrell or his politically motivated firing of former deputy counsel Scott Eckersley," Wright stated.

When asked whether Nixon has made unethical decisions as attorney general, Gibbons said he would not comment.

"I do think we could do things better as far as the hiring of outside attorneys is concerned," Gibbons said.


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