Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The only thing less sexy than this story is Scott Burnett

You would think that (allegations of) paying one of your employees on the sly would be pretty interesting in terms of political scandal as the election season quickly approaches. You would be wrong.

As of yesterday, Jackson County Legislator Scott Burnett is under investigation by the Missouri attorney general's office.

The complaint centers on whether Burnett has used public money to pay his legislative aide to do work at his consulting firm and questions whether Burnett had two conflicts of interest: He lobbies for a company that has a contract with the county worth more than $6 million, and his brother-in-law was involved in a land deal with the county.
The complaint was filed by the notorious Bob "Get my ass kicked in public" Stringfield. Initially, the complaint was filed with the Jackson County Ethics Commission [insert laugh here] and (unsurprisingly) nothing came of it. Already, there is a question whether or not AG Jay Nixon should recuse himself because of possible political ties to Burnett. Also, I wouldn't count on Burnett's company landing any big gigs in the near future . . . The mission of his business is to "offer public affairs services to counsel and assist clients in communicating their views to government officials" and it sounds eerily similar to Halliburton in this new light.

While this is very big news for the 2 to 3 dozen people who actually vote in the County elections, I'd have to say this story is a big snooze fest because it does not involve dead hookers, attractive people or anything that will remotely impact the lives of Jackson County voters.

Still, this tidbit does help out the election hopes of Patrick Dobson who seems to be strategically raping the corpse of this dead boring news item. It's a good move in a race where Dobson seemed to be the underdog as late as yesterday. Here's an excerpt of a press release where Dobson explains his thoughts on the matter:
The Ethics Commission's finding in this kind of complaint further erodes the reputation and credibility of the Jackson County Legislature and Jackson County government. Such a finding only fuels suspicions that county officials put their personal interests before the interests of the public and the taxpayer.

[Note from Tony: I hope you didn't laugh yourself to death after reading that.]

I believe Mr. Burnett to be innocent until a court decides otherwise. His position in a lobbying firm with a client that receives county contracts, however, combined with his position as legislator gives the appearance of a conflict.

Moreover, if it is determined that Mr. Burnett has a relationship with Attorney General Jay Nixon as a political consultant or campaign or fundraising volunteer, I will ask that Nixon recuse himself and his office from the case, and that Mr. Burnett's case be sent to another legal authority for investigation and possible prosecution.
So what have we learned from all this? Well, Dobson has a better chance then we once suspected and Burnett is no longer a golden boy simply because he looks like a high school principal. Also, with Stringfield trying to play the role of watchdog it's clear that a career in politics is never over until they find you with a dead girl or a live boy. While the Burnett story is a significant scandal, it's just not very sexy. Everyone who bothers to vote for County officials already assumes that they're all corrupt. Good luck to Burnett's opponents on easily attaining the spot of the lesser evil.

I'm afraid that unless we discover that the assistant who Burnett (allegedly) was paying was incredibly hot then all of this amounts to a controversy over bookkeeping and that won't really stir the hearts and minds of this apathetic local electorate.

If it helps you, I've come up with a "visual approximation" of the assistant who was (allegedly) getting paid on the downlow so that this story might become a little more captivating. If the person in question is half as hot as this broad and getting paid on the County's dime . . . Then I think this story might go somewhere after all.

Check it:


Dan said...

IMHO, I've known Scott for years, and he's a straight-shooter who is involved to serve the public. I saw him the other night at fundraiser for Lincoln Prep's band program, and while all the other politicians in the audience made sure they got their presence noted (and many of them left soon after getting props for being there), Scott sat anonymously in back, content to support the school and keep the focus on the kids.

I know nothing about Stringfellow's complaint, but I know Scott, and he's a good guy.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Burnett has been one of the good guys at the County. Stringfield is going to run for Kansas City City Council, and he needs some better publicity then trying to whip up on his fellow legislators. He is trying to use an old complaint to get some media time.