Opponent says Jetton's fund-raising letter violates agreement to run clean campaign

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Candidate criticized for taking donations from outside of district.

House Speaker Rod Jetton last month issued an urgent call to supporters for money to fuel his re-election campaign after his Democratic challenger reported outraising the three-term incumbent.

"Unfortunately, his support amounts to a tidal wave of money, activists and slander headed my way," Jetton wrote. "I believe we are facing the most serious challenge we have ever seen. The scariest part of this whole conspiracy is that it is actually working!"

Jetton, a Marble Hill Republican, faces ironworker Mike Winder of Marquand. From April 1 to June 30, Winder raised $4,303 for his campaign, or $28 more than Jetton.

Jetton recovered his immense advantage in day-to-day fund-raising in the most recent reporting period, covering July 1 to July 27. Jetton reported raising $12,075, while Winder raised $1,825. As of July 27, Jetton had raised $60,208 for his re-election bid, and had $30,420 in the bank.

Since the end of November 2004, Jetton has given more money to other Republicans than Winder has raised. Jetton has donated $7,775. Winder has raised a total of $7,206 for his campaign, with a cash balance of $686 on July 27.

Winder will face Jetton in the November election in the 156th District Missouri House contest, a district that covers Bollinger and Madison counties as well as part of Wayne County.

The letter, which Winder provided to the Southeast Missourian, is a reminder letter to a supporter who apparently did not respond to a first plea for money. "I am writing to you again because the problem is worse than I thought. The last report showed my opponent raised more than I did last quarter. The vast majority of his money came from liberal special interests outside the district in places like St. Louis and Jefferson City."

Handshake agreement

To Winder, the letter's contents and tone violate a handshake agreement he said was initiated by Jetton at the Fredericktown Azalea Festival. At that time, Winder said, Jetton asked him to refrain from negative campaigning and he agreed.

"That is what is wrong with politics, always going after the other person and saying what is wrong," Winder said. "You need to say what you would do to fix it and what you could do better."

Jetton said his letter does not violate that agreement. He is worried, he said, about large sums being spent by groups opposed to his stands on abortion, guns, civil lawsuit limits and workers compensation.

"I have seen first hand the kind of money they have put into campaigns in the state of Missouri," Jetton said.

A review of donations to the two candidates showed that of funds with donors listed by Winder, $2,925 was from outside Southeast Missouri and $3,270 came from within the district or nearby areas.

Most of Winder's money from outside the area came from labor unions or other Democrats showing support for a fellow party member.

The support from within the area shows local backing and the union funds donated to his campaign recognize that he is a fellow union worker, Winder said.

"They might be special interests because they are unions, but they employ just everyday working people," Winder said. "The unions make sure we have health-care and retirement benefits, and that is what I think everybody deserves."

Of the $46,769 in itemized contributions listed on Jetton's reports since the November 2004 election, $13,675 came from Southeast Missouri while $33,094 came from donors outside the area. Most of Jetton's funding from outside the area came from political action committees representing interests with business before the legislature.

The job of speaker of the Missouri House is considered the second-most powerful post in state government, behind only the governor.

The donations to his campaign represent support for his stands on issues, not an attempt to purchase his power in support or opposition to any particular issue, Jetton said.

"I always say, if they like my views they can donate to my campaign," Jetton said. "They are supporting me, I am not supporting them."

In the letter, Jetton said opponents are making false claims about Republican policies. "Voters have been misled into believing things are getting worse when they are actually improving by leaps and bounds."

Jetton cited a state treasury that has reaped a bounty of new tax revenue as economic conditions statewide improved.

Winder, however, said that the 156th District has seen little of that improvement and that the state is flush with cash because of benefit cuts. "The health-care issue in general, people are really tired of it," he said. "There are no real good-paying jobs. And the state has so much more money, but they cut everybody."


335-6611, extension 126

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