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Monday, May 9, 2011

Pro-Earnings Tax Group Spent $15 Per Vote

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Rex Sinquefield forced the earnings tax to vote -- thereby pumping more than $500,000 into the economy of political consultants and campaign strategists. Talk about a stimulus!
  • Rex Sinquefield forced the earnings tax to vote -- thereby pumping more than $500,000 into the economy of political consultants and campaign strategists. Talk about a stimulus!
It wasn't exactly cheap -- but it was effective.

Citizens for a Stronger St. Louis, the group organized by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to convince city voters to keep the one percent earnings tax, poured $512,357 into its successful campaign -- or roughly $14.93 per vote.

That's a significant increase from the sum we previously reported; the group had spent just $417,058 one week before the vote, which would have been more like $12 per vote. But its final report, which was filed Thursday, shows a blitz of $95,298 in expenditures the week before, and in the days immediately following, the April 5 vote.

Among those expenses? A hefty $9,603 in payments to Enterprise for "transportation." A tab of $1,990 for the election-night party at Walkers Restaurant on Gravois. And, another $10,000 to Public Eye, PR guru Richard Callow's company, for strategic campaign oversight. (By our tally, that brings Callow's total for his work on the campaign to $25,000.)

Mary Ellen Ponder, a Slay staffer who took a leave absence to work on the campaign, earned another $9,000 in its final days, the report shows, bringing her total to $21,987.

Interestingly, a company called Landlord Shield LLC was hired to perform "background checks" to the tune of $2,657. That presumably allowed the campaign to vet the 139 campaign workers who show up on the final report, some of whom earned as much as $1,017 for their efforts.

None of the rank-and-file campaigners, however, earned as much as State Representative Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, who (as we previously reported) was paid $5,000 for strategic campaign oversight. Nice work if you can get it!

Even after those $95,000 in disbursements, the campaign was still left with $151,574, which was transferred to a new not-for-profit corporation, Citizens for a Stronger St. Louis Inc., on April 30. That money will presumably come in handy the next time the earnings tax hits the ballot, since state law now requires it be reauthorized by voters every five years.

Of course, Mayor Slay has also been making noises about phasing out the tax, so who knows how many future campaigns St. Louis will be seeing. Even though the pro-tax group spent more than a half-million bucks in its successful effort, it may be billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who forced the measure to the vote and apparently has Slay's ear in the long term, who's the real winner here.

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