WHAT OTHERS SAY: Gubernatorial candidate's credibility at stake

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | 4:16 p.m. CDT

Republican David Spence, who is running for governor of Missouri, is having credibility problems.

The Kirkwood businessman is a former board member of Reliance Bancshares Inc., a holding company that accepted a $40 million government loan from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

The bank’s board in February 2011 voted to delay payment on its loan because of a lack of capital.

Spence at first told at least two media outlets that he resigned from the Reliance board in part because of that decision. “What I wanted to do, and what the board wanted to do, are two different things,” Spence told the St. Louis Beacon.

But The Associated Press reported this weekend that Spence had participated in the unanimous vote in favor of withholding loan payments.

Spence’s campaign is trying to explain the discrepancy by insisting that the candidate hasn’t changed his story, he just remembers more now.

That won’t satisfy either Spence’s opposition or Missouri voters.

Spence took out at least $9 million in mortgage loans for his business and a vacation home while on the bank’s board of directors. While it’s not unusual for bank board members to receive loans from their own institutions, the large amount of money loaned to Spence while the bank was short enough on cash to qualify for a TARP bailout raises questions.

Spence, who faces a primary challenge from lawyer Bill Randles of Kansas City, raised questions at the outset of his campaign by saying he had an economics degree from the University of Missouri, when in fact his degree is in home economics.

Spence is sadly mistaken if he thinks he can fool voters with half-truths and erroneous recollections.

He needs to be much more upfront with voters if he is to be considered a serious candidate.

Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.


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