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Sinquefield Gives $200,000 to Politician Who Ran Unopposed, Wants to End State Income Tax

Categories: Politics
steven tilley.jpg
Tilley: Young power broker has Sinquefield to thank for part of his fortune.
Last Tuesday, financier Rex Sinquefield won the first round of an effort to rid St. Louis and Kansas City of income taxes. On Wednesday, the man whose million of dollars in campaign contributions are transforming Missouri's political landscape scored another victory.

That's when the speaker-elect of the Missouri House, Steve Tilley (an optometrist from Perryville), announced his plans to champion another of Sinquefield's goals: doing away with the state income tax. In its place, Tilley has recommended a "fair tax" that would raise sales taxes -- a move that generally benefits people with higher income at the expense of the middle class. 

The speaker of the House is one of the most influential jobs in Missouri, holding sway over when and what bills get introduced. For those following campaign contributions, Tilley's announcement regarding income taxes was hardly a surprise. He is, after all, Sinquefield's favorite politician.

In 2009, Sinquefield contributed a single check of $100,000 for Tilley's re-election campaign -- the biggest single contribution Sinquefield made to any political candidate last year, according to records at the Missouri Ethics Commission. The same is true so far this year, with Sinquefield providing Tilley's re-election campaign $100,000 on September 24.

But here's the really curious thing about all that money. Tilley ran unopposed in both the August primary and in last general Tuesday's election.

Why, then, did he need Sinquefield's money -- and some $1.3 million in additional campaign donations? Perhaps to allow the 39-year-old power broker to pass it along to his Republican colleagues as a way to buy build leverage in Jefferson City and champion his -- or maybe even Sinquefield's -- pet projects. Such as, for example, an abolition of the state income tax.

What was it that Mark Twain said about our government? Oh, yeah, it's the the best money can buy.

P.S. Tilley also wants to do away with Misouri's non-partisan court plan, forcing judges in St. Louis and Kansas City to run for election. Missouri Supreme Court Judge William Ray Price Jr. has blasted the proposal, warning it will corrupt the courts with money and special interests.

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