Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stenger Campaign Quietly Funding Effort to Defeat County Ballot Issue That Would Bolster County Council

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stenger Campaign Quietly Funding Effort to Defeat County Ballot Issue That Would Bolster County Council

Article excerpt

CLAYTON - New TV ads suggest people in St. Louis County should vote no on the county's Proposition B, a measure that would amend the county charter to give the County Council more power to spend and appropriate money without the county executive's approval.

B stands for bad, the ad says.

The fine print says MACFPD Campaign Committee paid for the ad. But public records show St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger's campaign was behind it.

MACFPD is a political action committee organized by principals of the nonprofit group Missouri Association of Career Fire Protection Districts. In IRS filings, the nonprofit group based in St. Peters describes its charitable purpose as training and educating fire protection chiefs, staff and officers.

The executive director of the nonprofit is listed as Gary Donovan, assistant fire chief at the Central County Fire and Rescue District in St. Peters; the phone number listed on the web site is for the fire district. Donovan is also listed as treasurer of the PAC. The president of the nonprofit is Dave Tilley, a political fundraiser whose firm has made $80,000 this year working exclusively for Stenger.

Post-Dispatch metro columnist Tony Messenger in an August 2017 column first put the spotlight on how the groups were helping Stenger bring in donations without having to report potential conflicts when donors also work for the county.

Since then, amounts have become larger. Messenger disclosed a year later that the PAC paid for ads against two other petitions the council had placed on the ballot over Stenger's vetoes, and that $200,000 had originated from another campaign financed by politically active philanthropist Rex Sinquefield.

It happened again in recent days. Stenger's campaign made $230,000 in donations to the nonprofit. The nonprofit gave the PAC $400,000, and the PAC spent $280,000 on ads. …

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