The committee in charge of drumming up public support to pass the three-quarter-cent sales-tax increase all over Missouri for road and other transit projects cashed some sizable checks on Tuesday. The money came from the types of donors one might expect would support such a cause.
Kansas City engineering giant Burns & McDonnell and transportation infrastructure firm Transystems Corp. donated $25,000 and $15,000, respectively, to the campaign committee on Tuesday.
Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs is chaired by Bill McKenna, who once upon a time chaired the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, a powerful body in Show-Me State politics that decides where big money goes for transportation projects. Interestingly, that commission is now chaired by Stephen Miller, a Kansas City lawyer and Republican whose law practice has represented clients who do highway construction work.
In any event, Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs has made $97,500 in the last 24 hours, a collection of contributions that includes $25,000 from APAC - Kansas Inc., a major road construction firm based in Overland Park.
Those totals will line the pockets of a well-funded campaign committee that, as of April, had raised $586,022 since forming last year. Its contributors this year are almost exclusively engineering firms, labor unions and construction trade organizations - all exercising their First Amendment rights.
The committee's contributions include Washington, D.C., polling firm Normington Petts (whose Missouri clients have included Gov. Jay Nixon, Secretary of State Jason Kander and former Congressman Ike Skelton) and a mysterious public-affairs firm that lists a half-million-dollar house in Denver as its business address and which state records shows was dissolved in April.
Also this week, an opposition campaign called Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions was formed. So far, it has no money.
The Missouri transportation tax heads for the ballot on August 5, the same date that Kansas City voters will decide on forming a transportation development district for the streetcar expansion.
Tuesday was a good day for Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs.