Sinquefield Donates $1.3 Million to Let Voters Decide; Files Lawsuit Against State Officials

Categories: Politics
sinquefield donation 3.jpg
Sinquefield's gift dwarfs other campaign contributions made in Missouri this week.
Rex Sinquefield has done it again. On Monday the St. Louis financier opened up his wallet and donated $1.3 million to Let Voters Decide, the campaign committee he's bankrolling that seeks to repeal Missouri's state income tax.

Such gifts are not uncommon for Sinquefield. Last October he cut a single check for $3.9 million to Let Voters Decide when the organization was seeking to topple the local earnings taxes in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Look for Sinquefield to provide even more eye-popping contributions this time around as Let Voters Decide shoots for its ultimate goal of repealing the state income tax in the November 2012 election.

To that end, Sinquefield's committee and his chief Jeff City lobbyist, Travis Brown, recently upped the ante on the legal front -- filing suit against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and State Auditor Thomas Schweich over the summary and fiscal note they use on the ballot initiatives.

In the lawsuit (see a copy of it here) the plaintiffs argue semantics with Carnahan, claiming the Secretary of State failed to accurately summarize one version (Let Voters Decide has submitted eleven nuanced initiatives) of the income-tax repeal they want to circulate to voters for inclusion on the November 2012 ballot. Sinquefield and Travis Brown also argue that the fiscal note from auditor Tom Scweich on two versions of the initiative is unfair and insufficient.

Schweich's fiscal note (below) for both proposals says that replacing state income tax with higher sales taxes could increase state revenues slightly or decrease them catastrophically.
Annual state government revenue under this proposal may increase by up to $300 million or decrease by up to $1.5 billion. The proposal is estimated to increase state operating costs by at least $15 million, and may accelerate tax credit redemptions. The fiscal impact to local governments is unknown.
Sinquefield and Brown want to whitewash the possible revenue shortfalls entirely from the fiscal note. Here's their suggested fiscal note submitted to the court (bold-faced for emphasis):
Annual state government revenue under this proposal may remain the same or increase by up to $300 million. The proposal is estimated to increase state operating costs by at least $15 million, which is less than expected new revenues. The fiscal impact to local governments is unknown.
Oy vey! That's some chutzpah!

At Missourians for Fair Taxation, a campaign committee founded by Missouri real-estate agents in opposition to Let Voters Decide (and which has its own issues with the ballot initiatives), spokesman Scott Charton can only shake his head in response to Sinquefield's latest endeavors.

"It's no surprise that a campaign committee with a billionaire benefactor would throw millions of dollars at peddling its risky un-fair tax scheme," says Charton. "But we have real people by the thousands on our side to fight this devastating threat to the Missouri economy that would blow a more than billion-dollar hole in the state's general revenues."

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