Hulshof and Forsee mum on university meetings

Thursday, November 19, 2009

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Former congressman Kenny Hulshof isn't letting his unsuccessful attempt to lead the University of Missouri system keep him away from University Hall.

Public records obtained by The Associated Press show Hulshof has met with university president Gary Forsee at least three times in recent months at Forsee's campus office. Both men declined to discuss the private sessions.

"I meet with lots of people on lots of different topics," Forsee said Wednesday.

Hulshof was one of three finalists for the four-campus system's top job in 2007. University curators later hired Forsee, a former Cape Girardeau resident, after New Jersey businessman Terry Sutter, their preferred candidate from the initial three finalists, declined the job.

Hulshof is a Columbia Republican and former special state prosecutor who spent six terms in Congress. He won the Republican nomination for governor in 2008 but lost in the general election to Democrat Jay Nixon.

Plant sciences professor Gary Stacey attended one of the meetings with Hulshof at Forsee's request. He said that Hulshof was interested in creating a statewide "competitiveness council" focused on economic development, including luring federal stimulus money to the Kansas City region.

After leaving politics, Hulshof joined the law firm of Polsinelli Shughart PC as a member of its public policy team in January. He keeps offices in Kansas City and Washington.

Stacey helped create the Missouri Energy Institute, a Jefferson City-based not-for-profit designed to bring together utilities, environmental groups and researchers.

"They were concerned that we were kind of at cross purposes," Stacey said, referring to Hulshof and Forsee. "I didn't see it that way."

The Hulshof-Forsee meetings were listed on the president's monthly schedule, which are routinely provided at the AP's request. Hulshof did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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