Lewis Reed: "Grim Reaper of Radio" Bob Romanik Top Donor To Francis Slay Opponent

Updates below: Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen and candidate for St. Louis mayor, has just filed a new campaign finance report that reveals his donors. And up top in the filing, on view below, is Bob Romanik, a.k.a. the "Grim Reaper of Radio" and subject of an RFT cover story back in August.

Reed, who will go up against Mayor Francis Slay in the March Democratic primary, has not raised nearly as much money as his opponent -- an incumbent vying to be the first-ever St. Louis mayor to be elected to a fourth term.

Reed, who has recently gone on the offense against Slay, does, however, have the support of Romanik.

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"He is a very politically engaged guy," says Glenn Burleigh, Reed's new campaign manager says of Romanik. "Bob's tired of Slay like [many people]...and wants to see him go. And he has money to give."

The filing shows that Romanik has twice donated $5,000 to the Reed campaign, which appears to make him one of the top individual donors.

Romanik, who we profiled in-depth in our print feature, is a controversial radio host, ex-police chief, former strip club baron and a convicted felon with ties to a major east side racketeering scandal.

Burleigh touts that Reed has support from someone who is active outside of the city limits.

"Everyone understands that the city is the core of our entire region and so folks all across our surrounding counties, whether they be on the Missouri or Illinois side...know we need better leadership in the City of St. Louis," he says.

The latest filings from Slay and Reed show a clear financial advantage for the incumbent. Slay has $103,551.73 in total receipts, compared to Reed's $39,731. (And Slay's total expenditures is listed as $987,654.61, compared to Reed's $77,719.26).

Burleigh says Reed's campaign has a well thought-out strategy that is less focused on media ads. "We know we have less money, but we are being smart about it."

Update, 3:25 p.m: Since publishing this story, Daily RFT has received a harshly worded follow-up statement from Burleigh going after Slay and his colleagues:

We know that the Slay campaign is trying to "make hay" out of decades old mistakes that Bob has made. Despite his mistakes, Bob has become a successful businessman who owns multiple radio stations. The Mayor's staff should be focused on their own house. His fundraising consultant plead guilty to drinking and driving, in Illinois, and he paid thousands of dollars to Rodney Hubbard, who is currently under federal investigation for bilking the taxpayers out of thousands of dollars, as one of former Treasurer Williams' "ghost employees."

And in response to that statement, Richard Callow, of Slay's campaign, sends us this statement:

Mr. Reed's campaign finances speak to the current state of Mr. Reed's campaign, and somewhat more eloquently than Mr. Burleigh does.

Update 2, 4:43 p.m: Daily RFT reached Romanik this afternoon who offered us some comments on his donations to the Reed campaign.

He tells us that, even though he lives in Illinois, he wants to see improvements in St. Louis.

"It's important to all of us on both sides of the river," he says, citing his concerns with crime in the city. "Mr. Reed is a decent guy.... I know he is a man of the people."

On his radio show, he says he gets calls all the time from people disappointed in the current leadership.

"They think Mr. Reed can give [the city]...that positive change," he says, adding, "What's good for downtown St. Louis is good for the metro east area."

Romanik says he wants to see St. Louis become a safer place to visit.

"That was a contribution not so much to Mr. Reed, but to my family," he says.

Continue for the full filings.

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