Farm Bureau listed among state agencies in directory

Sunday, February 20, 2005

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri House began reprinting hundreds of phone lists Friday following complaints that the Missouri Farm Bureau had been listed among state agencies.

The Farm Bureau's phone number and lobbyist appeared on a quick reference directory distributed to all House members last week. It was the only nongovernment entity on the list, which included contact information ranging from the adjutant general's office to the workers' compensation division.

Carol Mesey, House Publication and Printing supervisor, chalked the error up to a simple editing mistake.

"It was on there by accident. It was just overlooked," Mesey said.

House chief clerk Stephen Davis said a House member had requested the list with the Farm Bureau's number. Soon other lawmakers began asking for copies, so House staff decided to print the directory for everyone -- forgetting to remove the Farm Bureau.

Davis said staff cannot recall which lawmaker first asked for the phone directory.

The politically powerful Farm Bureau provides insurance and lobbies on behalf of farmers and rural Missouri interests. It campaigned for Republican Gov. Matt Blunt last year and has typically -- although not exclusively -- supported Republican candidates.

Estil Fretwell, a Farm Bureau spokesman, said he was not aware of the phone list, adding: "We're definitely not a state agency."

The mistake caught the attention of some Democrats who have been critical of Blunt's close ties to the Farm Bureau.

"I thought Farm Bureau Insurance would give marching orders to the Blunt administration, but I didn't know they would achieve state agency status," said Missouri Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti.

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