"Mayor's Senior Staffers Lie to the Public in Attempt to Cover Up Scandal."
So says the latest header on a press release from the campaign of Lewis Reed, the Board of Aldermen President hoping to unseat longtime St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. And with it comes the sense that the mayor's race has perhaps reached a new low of attacks and divisive rhetoric as the primary election day approaches.
"Jeff Rainford, [Slay's chief of staff], one hundred percent lied," Reed Campaign Manager Glenn Burleigh tells Daily RFT. "Flat-out lied."
What's the source of this latest spat -- and why should we care?
Last week, the Reed campaign held a press conference to give reporters a stack of documents that allegedly prove that Mayor Francis Slay has been engaged in so-called "pay-to-play" schemes, using public resources for his campaign activities.
The meat of the accusations, summarized in a handout from the Reed campaign below, says that President of the Board of Public Service Richard Bradley used his city e-mail account, on city time, to solicit campaign donations for Slay's re-election bid. The Board of Public Service is made up of appointees of the mayor and is charged with signing contracts. And according to Reed's team, close to $32 million in "no bid" contracts -- when prices are negotiated after the fact -- were awarded to companies that have donated to Slay's campaign.
Slay and his staff have since vigorously denied that there was any wrongdoing other than Bradley's e-mail, which they say should not have come from the work account and was frowned upon, but not illegal.
Pushing the debate further, Burleigh responded Friday morning with a formal attack on the Slay response with a press email to reporters that said, in part:
After yesterday's press conference, where Pres. Reed presented the case that the Mayor's office has been using his appointees' no-bid contracting abilities to leverage campaign contributions, the Mayor's senior staff lied to the public. Jeff Rainford and Eddie Roth, [Slay's director of operations], while obviously struggling to come up with explanations made comments that range from outright lies to craven obfuscation.
Continue for response from Slay's office and for relevant documents in this case.
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