Missouri governor withdraws Tax Commission nominee

Friday, April 1, 2011 | 4:45 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has rescinded an appointment to the State Tax Commission after some state senators raised concerns about a decision the nominee made while presiding as judge in a rape case about a decade ago.

Nixon appointed Jeff Schaeperkoetter to the tax panel in July 2010 and reappointed him in January. But the Democratic governor withdrew Schaeperkoetter's appointment this week with little explanation.

"We believe that was the appropriate course to take," Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said and declined to elaborate.

Schaeperkoetter did not return telephone messages left Thursday and Friday by The Associated Press.

The governor's decision came after some Republican senators raised concerns about a sentence Schaeperkoetter imposed as a circuit judge in December 2000. Jurors convicted Matthew J. Wasiak of rape, sodomy and deviate sexual assault, and they recommended sentences of 10 years on each of the first two counts and seven years for the sexual assault charge. Schaeperkoetter suspended the prison sentences and instead ordered Wasiak to spend 120 days in jail, placed him on probation and directed him to pay $5,000 in restitution to the victim.

State Sen. Jane Cunningham was among those opposing Schaeperkoetter's appointment to the Tax Commission.

"As a woman, I cannot possibly defend ratifying the nomination for someone who has made that kind of decision — I just cannot defend it," said Cunningham, R-Chesterfield.

Cunningham cited a 2001 article by the Riverfront Times that described how Wasiak drugged the victim's drink at a bar and then took the woozy woman to his home. In that article, Schaeperkoetter defended his decision and was quoted as saying at the sentencing: "If anybody is listening, this is why you don't go to bars."

Cunningham said she met with Schaeperkoetter recently about his appointment, and he still defended his sentencing decision.

Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, said he also had concerns initially about Schaeperkoetter's appointment.

"There was an issue about a court case," Mayer said. "But later on, after having discussions with him and some others, I was not going to hold him up."

Before being appointed to the State Tax Commission, Schaeperkoetter was director of facilities management, design and construction in Nixon's Office of Administration. Schaeperkoetter previously worked for Nixon in the attorney general's office.

Schaeperkoetter was elected in 1992 as circuit judge for Osage, Gasconade and Franklin counties and won re-election to a second six-year term in 1998. He served from 1981 to 1989 in the Missouri House and from 1989 to 1993 in the Missouri Senate.

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