COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
An ad against Republican Gov. Mike Parson takes aim at payments his office took from lobbyists and money that office spent to travel Missouri.
The ad comes from "A Stronger Missouri," a political action committee put together in June to oppose Parson's bid for governor.
Ad: "For years, Parson racked up gifts and perks from lobbyists and special interests, including private jet flights, football tickets, golf outings and more."
The Missouri Ethics Commission showed that Parson was the only statewide official in 2017 to take payments from lobbyists. That included more than $3,900 in gifts. Parson also took $1,414 in gifts for the six months he served as lieutenant governor in 2018.
A look at recent MEC records shows Parson's office has not reported accepting any lobbyist gifts since taking over as governor. Neither has Parson's opponent on the November ballot, Democratic State Auditor Nicole Galloway. Those same records show Galloway has not accepted any lobbyist gifts since she became auditor in 2015.
Ad: "For the expenses that lobbyists didn't cover, Parson billed taxpayers and got caught."
The "catching" here was done by Galloway in a 2019 closeout audit of Parson's time as lieutenant governor. That audit cited multiple issues, including hundreds spent on travel throughout Missouri without a "clear business relationship" documented. State regulations require public officials to have such a reason in order to get reimbursed by the state.
Parson's attorney, Chris Limbaugh, wrote that all travel was done to promote Missouri tourism, and that he was invited to each event.
Ad: "He took gifts for himself, but opposed lower health care costs for us, leaving Missouri families vulnerable during the crisis."
The ad refers to Parson's opposition to expanding Medicaid in the state to cover people at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line -- $26,200 for a family of four. The federal government covers 90 percent of the cost of expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Parson opposed expanding the program, saying it would cost the state tens of millions. Voters approved expanding the program in August, and Parson has promised to see to its implementation.
The Kaiser Family Foundation says 9% of the state is currently uninsured. While the state does not have data on the income brackets of COVID-19 patients, groups such as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities say states without an expanded Medicaid program put people at risk, as the uninsured might put off medical treatment for COVID-19 because of its cost.