The Republican lieutenant governor condemned Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Tuesday for a suspicious $50,000 campaign contribution from a major union.
Despite being unable to seek another term in office, Nixon received the large campaign contribution from the United Automobile Workers (UAW) less than a week after killing a bill that would have ended forced union dues or fees in the state.
“Gov. Nixon is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election,” Republican Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder declared in a statement. “What use, then, does he have for this money? He should return the money. Otherwise, it smells of more ‘pay to play’ politics by this administration.”
House Bill 116 was signed by Speaker of the House John Diehl and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, both Republicans, in late May and would have made Missouri the 26th state to enact such a law. The policy, known as right-to-work, tends to be heavily favored by the right but opposed by those on the left including labor unions. Diehl has since resigned for sending sexually charged text messages to a teenage intern.
“The governor likes to give lip service to putting limits on campaign spending while he rakes in millions of dollar from lawyers, lobbyists and labor,” Kinder continued. “He needs to return the money, and lawmakers need to override his veto in September.”
“Right to Work is a critical reform that will spur economic development in our state, and the Legislature has the opportunity to stop Gov. Nixon’s obstruction,” he concluded.
The UAW is among the many unions that oppose right-to-work arguing that it lowers worker pay and protections. The union even has a webpage that links news, events and studies that are against the policy. Supporters, however, have countered the claim while noting that the policy can promote job growth by creating a business friendly environment.
“Six of our border states are right-to-work,” James Harris, a political strategist, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “That puts us at a disadvantage.”
Harris has worked with local businesses and politicians in the hopes of promoting economic growth and prosperity in Missouri. He considers right-to-work the best way currently to do just that.
“Missouri not being right-to-work has put us at a disadvantage,” Harris noted. “Missouri is at a crossroads.”
“We’re kind of like Michigan in that our current manufacturing base is withering away,” he continued.
Though Harris disagrees with Nixon on his opposition to right-to-work, he says it was how the governor went about it, accepting union cash, that is most troubling.
“Our governor has advocated for campaign finance reform,” Harris said. “Then he vetoes a bill and accepts $50,000.”
Nixon, however, is not the only Democrat entrenched with organized labor in the state. State Sen. Gina Walsh and House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, both of whom voted against the bill, are local union leaders.
Walsh is currently the president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council, while Hummel is the Treasurer for Missouri chapter of the AFL-CIO. Both unions are affiliates of the national AFL-CIO which has been one of the main opponents of right-to-work laws.
“In my opinion, the proponents did not give any reasons to vote for the bill,” Walsh noted on her Facebook page. “The proponents of Right-to-Work gave the committee no reason to vote for the bill and opponents gave the committee every reason to vote no.”
Even though unions have helped to create a strong unified force against right-to-work, Harris is optimistic. In September, lawmakers will get a chance to vote on whether to override the veto and supporters are already starting to sway lawmakers their way.
“In the Senate we’ll have to pick up two votes,” Harris stated. “In the House we got to pick up 17 votes.”
Nixon, the UAW, Walsh and Hummel all did not respond to a request for comment from TheDCNF.
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