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MEMO To Tea Party Express: Have You Actually Seen Sarah Steelman’s Record?

TO: The Tea Party Express
FR: Matt Thornton, American Bridge 21st Century
RE: Have you actually seen Sarah Steelman’s record?
DT: March 22, 2012

Today the national tea party group, Tea Party Express, announced their support for former Missouri state Treasurer Sarah Steelman. The one thing that this announcement makes clear is that the Tea Party Express has no idea about Steelman’s record. While we think she is certainly the wrong choice for Missouri, we would have thought a number of positions she has taken would immediately disqualify her from consideration by the Tea Party Express as well.

Since the Tea Party Express is obviously too busy shopping for tricorn hats to do their due diligence, American Bridge 21st Century decided to do the research for them. This is what we found:

During First Six Months In State Senate, Steelman Accepted 30 Gifts From Lobbyists Worth $1,415.57. “A computer analysis done by The Kansas City Star shows that the 197 lawmakers in the House and Senate took a total of $139,219 in gifts, or an average of $706.69. The News Tribune looked at reports for 10 Mid-Missouri lawmakers, determining they took an average of $459.08. Rep. Chuck Graham accepted more gifts from lobbyists than any other Mid-Missouri lawmaker, while Rep. Carl Vogel was the only area legislator who took nothing. The Missouri Ethics Commission recently released lobbyist spending reports for the six-month period from Dec. 1 through May 31. Graham, D-Columbia, accepted 35 gifts worth $1,439.10. He was followed closely by Sen. Sarah Steelman, R-Rolla, who received 30 gifts worth $1,415.57.” [Jefferson City News Tribune, 8/15/99]

April 2002: In Letter To The Editor, Steelman Lauded Air Emissions Standards For Cement Plant As Integral To “Process Of Meeting Economic Needs And Protecting Environmental Interests.” In a Letter to the Editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Steelman wrote: “As a state senator, I spend a great deal of time working to protect Missouri’s natural resources while seeking economic opportunity for people in our state. After a great deal of study, I and many of my colleagues join in bipartisan support for the proposed cement production facility in Ste. Genevieve County… But economic growth must be balanced with the need to protect and preserve the environment. And I am glad to see that Holcim has committed to several steps to make sure the facility is operated in an environmentally sound way… In addition, any air emissions from the Holcim plant will have to meet the tough standards established for health and safety by the federal and state governments. A study commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown that the plant will not hurt the St. Louis region’s efforts to meet federal ozone attainment standards. The Holcim plant is one example of how the process of meeting economic needs and protecting environmental interests should work.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4/26/02]

Steelman Sided With Democratic View Of Social Services Budget, Contradicted Own Party. “Calling the cutbacks ‘penny wise and pound foolish,’ the GOP senators sounded a lot like, well, Democrats. Republican leaders constantly have criticized how the Department of Social Services budget has grown under Democrats. Still, the three women smiled when asked about the seeming incongruity between their news conference and their party’s oft-stated view of the social services budget.” [Kansas City Star, 8/5/01]

December 2011: Interview: Steelman Opposed Paul Ryan Medicare Proposal, Worried That Vouchers Would Not Keep Up With Cost Of Living Increases For Seniors. In an interview with the Springfield News-Leader: “Q: Would you support transforming Medicare into a voucher program in which seniors purchase insurance in the private market, instead of the current government program, as proposed by House GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.? SARAH STEELMAN: ‘The cost of living (increase) that’s factored into the (voucher proposal) each year is different, and I’m afraid it wouldn’t cover the cost of increasing health costs from year to year… And then I also worry about how, if you have that age population, if you can actually get reasonably priced insurance. It’s difficult to insure the senior population’ in the private market.” [Springfield News-Leader, 12/3/11]

Audio: Steelman Endorsed Raising Taxes On “47% Of Earners Who Are Not Paying Taxes,” Wanted To “Flatten The Tax Structure.” In a radio interview on KRZK Branson, Steelman said: “What I think we need to do is an entire new tax system. I think we need to blow it up and make it fairer on both sides of the equation between those big corporations, who aren’t paying taxes now need to be, and there is 47% of earners in this country who are not paying taxes as well that probably need to be paying something. So let’s flatten that tax structure, close the loopholes and flatten it.” [KRZK Branson, 10/27/11]

Steelman Voted To Authorize Sales Tax Increase, Property Tax Increase In City And County. On April 30, 2003, Steelman voted for the Senate Substitute version of the House Committee Substitute version of HB 600, a bill that modified a large number of provisions in the tax code. Among other changes, the bill authorized the city of Weston to levy a 1/2% sales tax for tourism promotion. It also authorized Buchanan County to increase its property tax from five cents to ten cents per $100, in order to support enhanced services for residents age 60 and over. The bill established that popular approval was required before either tax increase could take effect. According to the Missouri House of Representatives, “This act makes various changes regarding taxation. The act: (3) Increases from 5 cents to 10 cents per $100 the maximum allowable tax levied on property to provide services for those over age 60 and older, if voter approval is obtained, for Buchanan County only (Section 67.990); (4) Authorizes the city of Weston to impose a 1/2% sales tax for tourism, with approval by vote of the people (Section 67.2030).” The bill was approved by a vote of 28-4. [Missouri State Senate, Daily Journal of the Senate, Day 63, 4/30/03, Page 1111; Missouri House of Representatives, Official Summary, HB 600]