Monday, October 1, 2007

Grisamore (47th) has an Ethics Problem


Rep. Jeff Grisamore (R) has an ethics problem.

We all know about conflicts of interest; our mommas taught us to avoid them. You can't be in charge of the cookie jar and be dipping into it. That is, however, exactly what Jeff Grisamore is doing. According to KC Blue Blog and the St. Louis Post Dispatch, when Blunt announced that he was going to start giving state monies to churches to do the state's social services, Rep. Grisamore was at Blunt's side. Frequent readers of this blog will know I am not ashamed of my religion, but sure don't want my politics and religion mixed.

Grisamore makes $120,000 a year as president of the Alliance for Orphans and Widows (sounds like a really good cause). If you go to their website, don't expect much, its under construction. The conflict of interest arises when Grisamore sponsored legislation so the faith based organizations could get payed to do the state's social services work. The Bill is HB 888 and establishes the Faith-Based Organization Liaison Act.

Now, the ethics problems arise. Go to Jeff's political website and his address is listed as 305 S.W. Market Street. Go to the web site of the Alliance for Orphans and Widows and its address is, you guessed it, 305 S.W. Market Street. It gets even better, the two organizations share a phone number, too. 816-225-5695. At this point, it kinda gets sad. Representative Grisamore pays for the phone number out of campaign funds, according to his most recent MEC filing.

Don't mix politics and religion. Rep. Grisamore, please give one up (preferably, not God). Either it is a political office or a non-profit office (the website says they are in critical need of tax deductible contributions). It can't be both for you to keep your 501(c)3) status.

38 comments:

whistleblower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What does someone who can't follow a different set of rules have to do Rep. Grisamore? You go knock over your wind mill, Grisamore mixing politics with a non-profit will get his ticket punched.

Stephen Bough said...

Gone Mild dug up the form 990 filed with the IRS - Grisamore was paid a huge $219,506 according to documents from 2006. According to the return, the books are in possesion of Grisamore.

http://www.gonemild.com/COPI2005/2005-431027276-02976830-9.pdf

whistleblower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Blower -

I'm going to be kind and gentle with you. You seem sincere, but terribly confused and out of your intellectual depth.

You need to be much more careful in what you write if you intend to do anything more impactful than being ignored.

You have a flair for overstatement and bluster. "Why would you permit a criminal to judge a criminal?" Where's your criminal? What are the circumstances? You're labeling judges to be criminals without providing any evidence. You're engaging in what we lawyers call "conclusory statements" - they are not persuasive or of any value to an argument.

Then, you betray your single-minded obsession. Let's accept, for the sake of argument, that a judge somewhere is a criminal. Now, you want to shut down the entire judicial engine because of that circumstance? Really? We have to shut down our entire judicial system? Every single discussion of law is now a forum for you to rant about your twisted theory?

Even if you personally think that every discussion that touches on legal topics should be a forum for your pet issue, do you really think you are gaining converts to your cause this way? Here's a hint - you're making yourself seem like a raging lunatic. You might as well be ranting about the faked moon landing, or the man on the grassy knoll, or the income tax not applying to earnings. This is neither the time nor the place for such theories, and your attempt to hijack threads does not make you seem any more credible or rational.

I've not discussed your theories with Bough, but I assure you that he would, in fact, aggressively go after unethical behavior on the bench. I must also correct your absolutely false claim that "Members of the Missouri Bar consider it unethical to report/ comment on ethics violations of their fellow Bar members". You are simply but horribly wrong there - in fact, we are ethically required to report ethical violations.

The fact that you have dreamed up a theory about dictators and judges does not mean that Steve, or I, or any other member of the bar needs to take you seriously. When you make baseless allegations and sweeping statements that we know are false, you do not do your cause any favors.

Phil Cardarella said...

For a bunch of Fundamentalists, these guys seem to have it all wrong: Christ drove the moneychangers OUT of the Temple. They keep trying to drive then IN. Selective dyslexia?

As the Founding Fathers knew -- and as the oil rich ayatollahs now demonstrate -- there is no mixture more toxic to freedom than Church and State and Money.

Representative Jeff Grisamore said...

While I normally do not read or respond to political Blogs, knowing they often contain false statements as Mr. Bough’s postings about me repeatedly have, I feel compelled to respond in this situation for the sake of the outstanding organizations I have served and the orphans and widows for which they care. Mr. Bough has, unfortunately, written many misrepresentations about me and the charitable organizations to which I have devoted my life caring for orphans and widows and the poor.

Orphans and widows all over the world count on the support of these fine organizations of which I have been privileged to be a part. When those organizations are maligned, it can hurt their credibility, which could cause misinformed readers to not support those organizations and make desperately needy orphans and widows suffer. Therefore, I feel compelled to respond and set the record straight.

Mr. Bough stated I receive a salary of $120,000 a year from the Alliance for Orphans and Widows. In truth, I receive no salary from the Alliance. The Alliance is a donor advised fund and all tax-deductible contributions to the Alliance go to non-profit organizations caring for orphans and widows.

Mr. Bough also stated in his comments that I received $219,506 according to IRS documents from 2006. That also is untrue. My salary while I served as president of Children of Promise International ranged from $48,000 to $88,000 over six years. My total compensation for salary and benefits per year was never even remotely closer to what Mr. Bough and others claim.

I am passionately dedicated to serving my constituents and the people of Missouri in the public policy sector and also continue to serve the poor and needy through public charities. We are always very careful to keep the two completely separate in accordance with the law and to uphold the highest level of legal, ethical and financial integrity.

Mr. Bough also said my campaign and the Alliance offices share the same address of 325 SW Market Street. That is correct. However, they are in separate Suites in a small, multi-suite office building. The campaign pays for Suite 1 and supporters of the Alliance pay for Suite 2. Even though the Alliance is not yet a 501(c)3, but operates as a donor advised fund under the umbrella of another non-profit, we wanted to be very careful from the start to keep the physical offices for the campaign and Alliance separate to avoid even the appearance of conflict with IRS and FEC laws.

We sought advice from the MEC on this before we opened the campaign office last year and have continued to consult the MEC regularly to be very careful we are in full compliance with state laws and MEC regulations. They have always been very helpful.

Finally, Mr. Bough noted a phone is shared by the campaign and Alliance. When I began the campaign, I asked the MEC if I should get a separate phone for the campaign. They said that is not necessary and advised me to continue paying for the phone personally, which I have, and pro-rate campaign use and pay that use from the campaign, which we have.

Mr. Bough also falsely implies that non-profit use of the phone was paid for with campaign funds according to my latest MEC filing. That filing actually shows a payment to Sprint for two other phones that were used exclusively for the campaign, not the phone I use regularly. Campaign funds cannot be used for non-campaign or personal uses, and we always carefully abide by those high standards.

Concerning the Faith Based Organization Liaison act, Mr. Bough assumes I sponsored House Bill 888 and handled Senate Bill 46 to mandate state funding of faith based organizations like the ones I serve. In truth, SB 46 does not mandate any state funding of non-profits, faith based or otherwise. In fact, the Blaine Amendment to the Missouri Constitution forbids state funds from going to churches, denominations and ministers.

The purpose of the Faith Base Organization Liaison Act is to appoint liaisons in the state’s Department of Social Services to provide liaison to faith-based organizations and communicate with them concerning providing services to Missourians in need. Thirty-four other states have passed similar laws. No money is mandated in the new law.

The House passed the Faith Based Organization Liaison Act that I served as House handler overwhelmingly by a vote of 133 to 22, including multiple Democrats, many of whom are respectful and supportive of my charitable work. Some of those Democrats partnered with me and Republicans to support an outstanding non-profit in Kansas City, Operation Breakthrough, through the Alliance. I am also helping other charities in Kansas City who value my support of their organizations. Your misinformation could scandalize my work if not countered with the truth.

One of my greatest passions legislatively is to advocate for children, seniors and the disabled. Many of my colleagues in the House, including Democrats, would attest that I am not the bad guy and fraud you and your associates try to make me out to be.

You can attack me politically all you want, but when you make false assertions that can hurt the desperately needy orphans and widows for which we care, you have crossed the line and I will defend them and the organizations that care for them.

The organization for which I served as President for six years, before founding the Alliance for Orphans and Widows and running for public office, has been a member in good standing of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) for almost 25 years. They have provided adoption and foster care support services, orphan and widow care and homes, free schools and higher education opportunities, clinics and feeding and nutrition programs, and disaster relief here in Missouri and worldwide. While this Blog and others malign me and the organizations which I have served, I continue to passionately dedicate myself to serve my constituents and the people of Missouri, along with the various outstanding charities I serve.

Since establishing the Alliance for Orphans and Widows in early 2006, we have been sending 100% of charitable donations received to the designated projects for which they are intended through various non-profit organizations and have not received any salary from the Alliance. That is a far cry from the six-figures in compensation Mr. Bough falsely asserts I have received. We actually live very frugally to serve the public.

I realize Mr. Bough misunderstood the facts to publish such seriously misleading assumptions. As he is an attorney with ethical obligations himself, I would hope that next time, before leveling totally false charges against the ethics of individuals and organizations, he would be sure he has his facts straight before doing so.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

Rep. Jeff Grisamore

whistleblower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Bough said...

Rep. Grisamore,

You get some respect for responding.

Here is the link to the Children of Promise International's tax filing for 2005, which was filed late (with an extension) in August of 2006. http://www.gonemild.com/COPI2005/2005-431027276-02976830-9.pdf

Page 19, which lists officer compensation, has your name on it. If you add up the amounts under your name you get $219,506. Either 1) the IRS form is right; or 2) you are right. Check out the form 990 and let us know which of the two it is.

As to HB 888, the official House web site says you sponsored it, which is why I assumed it. http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/HB888.htm

Two suites, one phone number? If you say that the MEC says that is ok, then I'm not going to call you a liar. What did the IRS say?

IRS regulations say:

1) Religious organizations that engage in substantial legislative activity are disqualified from tax exemption regardless of the motivation or purpose of that activity. Christian Echoes National Ministry, Inc. v. U.S., 470 F.2d 849 (10th Cir. 1972), cert. den., 414 U.S. 864 (1973);

and

2) An organization’s activities in furtherance of a religious belief must serve exclusively exempt purposes. See Reg. 1.501(c)(3)–1(c)(1). If the organization’s activities promote a substantial nonexempt purpose, exemption under IRC 501(c)(3) is precluded.

http://www.irs.gov/irm/part7/ch10s04.html

Sounds to me that the two suites, one phone number arrangement does not meet the "exclusively exempt purpose" test set forth by the IRS.

Here's the deal, Jeff. Your party ran a horribly nasty campaign against Rev. Tom Haley. You didn't respond to this Blog or the Catholic Conference about Medicaid cuts. You didn't respond about school funding to Lee's Summit or the environmental posts. When the IRS Form 990 is cited for officer compensation, you dispute the truthfulness of the post.

The original post was right. The IRS Form 990 is there for everyone to see. Your political office and non-profit share an address and a phone number. You sponsored HB 888. The original post concluded by raising a question of keeping your 501(c)(3) status, which you have not addressed. You claim to have cleared this through the MEC. How about the IRS?

Again, thanks for responding.

Stephen Bough said...

Whistleblower,

In the original post, when you see a blue highlight which is underlined, click on it. It is a link. There are 8 links to endorse the facts in the original post.

Stephen Bough said...

Rep. Grisamore,

Since we have your attention, how about following up on the factual assertions from Gone Mild?

That blog asserts that the Alliance for Orphans and Widows is not a business registered to do business with the Secretary of State of Missouri. Why not? The Children of Promise, where you were president and registered agent, is set up with the SOS. https://www.sos.mo.gov/BusinessEntity/soskb/Filings.asp?650571#

Tell us about why the non-profit - that shares suites and a phone number with your political office - is not registered to do business in the state?

The attorney general has a "check a charity" service on the State's website. How come Alliance for Orphans and Widows doesn't participate? http://ago.mo.gov/checkacharity/

You said "One of my greatest passions legislatively is to advocate for children, seniors and the disabled." Why is it, then, that you bucked the Catholic Conference when they asked you to support restoring cuts to Medicaid instead of tax cuts for the wealthy? http://blogccp.blogspot.com/2007/09/grisamore-47th-bucks-missouri-catholic.html

Since you are defending yourself, care to take those on, too?

hunter said...

Stephen -

I need to look at it more closely but you double counted his salary. I looked at the form and the $219 you referred to is actually adding b. and c. to the total right above of $109.7. ($109.7 times two is $219)

It looks like his total DIRECT compensation was $109, which is still high for a small non-profit.

My experience of service on non-profit boards leads me to beleive this is really a $60K a year position, max, and perhaps a part time directorship position.

whistleblower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Representative Jeff Grisamore said...

Mr. Bough,

I am happy to answer your questions for your sake and that of your readers. You still falsely and inaccurately claim I was paid $219,596 according to the 2006 Form 990 for 2005. Again, that is not what the 990 says. It states my compensation in '05 was $98,593. The management and general and fundraising expenses you misrepresent as part of my pay were not. I was paid in 2005 a salary of $88,000.

The take home pay for my family of 10 during that year was about $6,000 a month or $72,000 a year. That is what I was paid, period. The additional approximately $10,000 included expenses that my employer paid was for non-salaried compensation, such as the company car I used for the 70 mile commute to our headquarters and our satellite offices. The additional amount was health insurance benefits.

Such non-salaried compensation must be included in W-2s. That organization upholds the highest standards of financial integrity as a longstanding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) that also commissions yearly outside audits from a highly reputable auditing firm.

My concern, Mr. Bough, is that you misrepresented me as receiving a salary of over $219,000—which is untrue—and also wrote that the Alliance for Orphans and Widows pays me $120,000 a year, which is also untrue and grossly misleading. In truth, I receive absolutely no salary or pay from the Alliance, zero.

As for House Bill 888, I stated that I did sponsor that bill in the House and handled the Senate version, SB 46, in the House. My concern is you falsely asserted I did so to mandate state funding of faith-based organizations like the ones I have served. As I already wrote, SB 46 does not mandate any state funding of non-profits, faith-based or otherwise. My previous post makes clear what the Faith Based Liaison Act does, so we do not need to repeat that here. My concern is that you falsely misrepresent me for sponsoring legislation for financial gain of organizations of which I am a part. That is outrageously false.

My motive for having sponsored the bill is to see more Missourians in need, especially poor and needy seniors, children and the disabled receive services and care. This new law holds great promise to make that possible as liaisons for the Department of Social Services communicate with faith-based organizations. A wonderful conference occurred last week in Jeff City in which DSS staff and staff of faith-based organizations met to consider ways to collaborate while abiding by state laws, especially the Blaine Amendment, and the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. As I said, 34 other states have adopted similar faith-based legislation.

Concerning the two suites and one phone number, we did consult the IRS as well as the MEC before setting up our campaign office in a separate suite from my charitable work done in another office. The IRS has an excellent online publication in PDF format that gives clear guidance for laws concerning non-profit exempt activity and political campaigns. I have also spoken to IRS personnel by phone.

What we found out from the IRS is if the cell phone was paid for by a 501(c)3, which the Alliance is not yet, and political activity was conducted on that phone, that would be a problem under exempt activity. However, since my phone is paid for personally and the Alliance office does not house a 501(c)3, but the Alliance is rather a donor advised fund under the umbrella of a 501 (c) housed in another place, there is no conflict with the phone being used by the Alliance and for campaign activity. But, wanting to be thorough and careful that we were abiding by not only federal Section 501 laws, but also state MEC laws, we also called the MEC, who advised what I stated in my previous posting—that if the phone is paid for personally, we should simply pro-rate campaign use from personal and charitable use and have the campaign pay for that portion.

Your questions are legitimate and we did consult both the IRS and MEC on the office and phone issues. What I object to us that you made assumptions and published incomplete and erroneous information that was false and misleading, which could damage my reputation and hurt our funding, which could cause orphans and widows to suffer. That is why I responded. We and our partners care for thousands of orphans and widows all over the world who rely on the support of our organizations for their very sustenance.

My campaign website and literature stated our campaign office is in Suite 1 and our Alliance for Orphans website states our Alliance office is in Suite 2. Perhaps you overlooked that?

Concerning your additional post about other Blogger assertions, here is my response. As I previously shared, the Alliance for Orphans and Widows was set up in early 2006 under the umbrella of a 501(c)3 community foundation. The IRS calls that umbrella status. It enables donor advised funds to function like a foundation and receive tax-deductible donations and make grants to non-profits without having to absorb overhead costs and deal with administrative, legal and tax issues. The community foundation provides all of that. That is the current configuration of the Alliance for Orphans and Widows.

While we have prepared an IRS form 1023 to file for 501(c)3 status, we held off because of my nomination to run for public office. We wanted to be careful to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest between a non-profit status and political campaign. Another reason was that all the administration for the Alliance for Orphans and Widows is provided by the 501(c)3 community foundation where the donor advised fund is held.

This configuration is how various community foundations in the greater Kansas City area operate. They provide all the back office and administration, typically for 1% per year. With our Alliance office funded by supporters, the donor advised fund has enabled us to operate the Alliance with no overhead costs and send 100% of donations received to their designated projects and purposes, both to outstanding charitable organizations in Kansas City and orphan and widow care partners overseas. It also enables me as a public servant to maintain a degree of separation from a traditional 501(c)3 configuration. That above explanation is why the other Blogger did not find the Alliance for Orphans and Widows registered with SOS as a Missouri Not-for-Profit, while Children of Promise International has been registered as such since 1974. It was a legitimate question and I have given you the answer.

As for your question of why I have not responded to your previous postings, as I shared, I do not normally read political Blogs and have never responded to any before now—and may not again. I serve my constituents in the 47th District and the people of Missouri, do my multi-faceted charitable work here in Lee’s Summit, greater Kansas City and worldwide, and am a husband and father of eight children. Life is busy and Blog responses are not a high priority.

Concerning your previous postings about me, I would not be inclined to respond to any politically driven postings about me that contain false and misleading statements. Contrary to your education posting about me, I have been a very strong supporter of public education and Lee’s Summit R-7 schools and helped lead the fight to defeat legislation adverse to our district. I have a very positive relationship with our School Superintendent, School Board members and teachers and administrators and am very proactive on their behalf on many fronts and am endorsed by the Missouri State Teachers Association.

As for your environmental posting, I voted for several environmentally friendly pieces of legislation, including alternative energy bills and the Easy Connect Act sponsored by a Democratic colleague in the House.

Your first post about me claimed I voted to lift limits on campaign contributions when I was not even a member of the Missouri House of Representatives when those votes took place. Again and again, you have made false statements about me and my work. Such is politics.

As I shared at the onset of our discussion, when you make false statements and misrepresentations about me politically, I am not inclined to respond. That’s the nature of the business and I am thick skinned on that front. You wrote of my Party’s campaign last election. There are aspects of independent mailings—of which candidates can legally have no knowledge of or control—that I do not like either. However, I will say that while the Missouri Republican Party’s mail about my opponent was at least documented, none of the mail the Missouri Democratic Party sent out against me with false charges or the cable TV ads they ran against me were documented. Independent expenditures in campaigns independent of candidates can be nasty, unfortunately, and it runs both ways.

The only reason I responded now is that your false, distorted and misleading claims about my former compensation, offices, phone and charitable work were all false from the start to finish in your posting. You stated I have an ethics problem and I simply do not. I am, and have always been, careful to abide by IRS and MEC regulations. Because I am a public figure, you can say almost anything in the Blogosphere with immunity from libel and slander liability. If I were not a public figure, and this were to be—hypothetically—argued in court, you would most certainly have your hands full. But, don’t worry, I am only speaking hypothetically. I would just simply implore you, as you are an attorney, to be more careful about what you publish if you want to become a more credible Blogger.

The misrepresentations you published have the potential—if uncontested—to mislead readers, which—in this age of Google—could damage my credibility and ability to raise tax-deductible charitable donations to care for orphans and widows and the poor here and all over the world for which we care. For their sake and that of my family and good name, I was compelled to respond.

You stated I bucked the Catholic Conference. I did not buck them and take strong exception with that false assertion. I responded to their legislative survey and have spoken with the Bishop about issues important to the Catholic community, including pro-life issues with which I share their positions. One of the things I appreciate most about my charitable work is that it has given me the opportunity to work with the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish communities here and around the world.

Concerning your reference to tax cuts for the wealthy, the Social Security tax cut for seniors (HB 444), it is not a tax cut for the wealthy as you write. It eliminates state taxes on Social Security benefits across the board for all seniors, from those with low incomes to those with incomes of up to $100,000 per year. I can send you data from the Joint Committee on Oversight and the University of Missouri to document this if you like. Wealthy seniors get a higher amount in reduced taxes because they paid more into the system. The assertion of tax cuts for the wealthy is not fair to any seniors who should not be unjustly double taxed on their hard earned money. I am passionately dedicated to respect and protect the interests of seniors and was thankful to be honored as Freshman Legislator of the Year for Children and Senior Advocacy. Nearly 90% of my constituents supported the Senior Tax Justice Act and it also provide tax relief for publicly pensioned employees, including teachers, police officers, firefighters, railroad workers and state and federal employees.

You also mentioned Medicaid cuts. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee on Health, Mental Health and Social Services, I can share some observations. While I was not in the House at the time the Medicaid cuts were made—and opposed some aspects of the Medicaid reform back then—the reality is our state faced a billion-dollar deficit. Missouri Medicaid had grown so exponentially that it threatened to bankrupt the state and overrun education funding.

In 2005, for the first time ever, Medicaid costs exceeded education funding in Missouri and more than twenty other states. A 2005 study by the Joint Committee on Research showed that Missouri had people on the rolls receiving Medicaid benefits—some of whom were deceased, others whom were living out of state, and still others making over $100,000 a year. That is not to mention the many fraudulently receiving Medicaid. I would be happy to send you a copy of that report. The lack of re-verification of those eligible for Medicaid was contributing to the exponential growth. When the opportunity for re-authorization was offered a very small percentage applied.

When Medicaid began over 40 years ago it was only about a one billion dollar outlay federally with Missouri receiving a small portion of that. Today, Medicaid is approaching a half trillion dollars a year nationwide. The entitlement mentality among many recipients was not the original intent of Congress when they first passed Medicaid in 1966. It was intended for the genuinely poor and needy, especially the disabled, not for multitudes of those who live in an entitlement mentality who have come to rely on the government and tax payers to pay their way for life.

I believe we have a problem at both ends of the Medicaid spectrum. At one end, removing those from the Medicaid rolls who misuse and fraudulently abuse the system unjustly, and at the other end caring for the most needy, especially the disabled, who genuinely need Medicaid assistance. Runaway Medicaid costs cannot be allowed to rob education funding from our schools and students. We have much to do yet on both fronts.

While Medicaid has seen the largest increases in the state budget, funding for education has increased by over a half billion dollars in the last three years without a tax increase. If there is one thing I have heard in the House among some of your fellow Democrats is they want to raise Missourians’ taxes. They proposed a nearly 1 billion dollar tax increase last year in HB 1960. I oppose tax increases for Missourians’ and advocate continuing to grow our economy, which is increasing our tax revenue base for education and social services without a tax increase.

Fighting for the poor and needy, especially the most vulnerable among us, including genuinely needy seniors, children and the disabled, is my greatest legislative passion. At the same time, I advocate responsible compassion. We have to be responsible to balance the budget and exercise fiscal responsibility and—at the same time—make sure we are caring for the most vulnerable and needy among us.

Senate Bill 577 which mandates MO Health Net, the new name for Medicaid, contains over 30 provisions, including increase coverage for 13,500 children. The Governor’s proposed Insure Missouri will dramatically increase the number of poor children and families covered by health care. SB 577 also increases funding for Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD), as well as allowing disabled workers in sheltered workshops to keep more of their hard earned money. It also contains provisions for dental, vision, hospice care and durable medical equipment, as well as expansion of health care coverage for children in foster care from 18 to 21 years of age. The budget calls for 6.4 billion dollars in federal and state funding for MO Health Net, including 946.6 million in new funding. SB 577 also has provisions to reduce fraud and update technology which will reduce costs by hundreds of millions. It is not an end all, but an important step in the right direction. We must seek continual improvement.

I don’t want to belabor this anymore online out of respect for your readers. I have sought to thoroughly answer your questions and thank you for them and allowing me the opportunity to post my answers for the potential benefit of those who might read them. I have spent more time on this than I should and will leave you to Blog away. I will continue my passionate commitment to public service as State Representative for the citizens of the 47th District and my family and charitable work. If you wish to talk more or have additonal questions, I suggest we converse offline out of respect for your readers. Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,

Rep. Jeff Grisamore

Stephen Bough said...

Rep. Grisamore,

We may disagree about lots of things politically, but I respect you taking the time to respond thoughtfully, intelligently and professionally.

whistleblower said...

Stephen...

Why not do the right thing and pull this article?

It does nothing for your reputation or Mr. Grisamores.

I have deleted my posts.

King and Mr. Spaulding said...

The problem is Stephen that you are coming close to libel here. I'm not sympathetic to Grisamore, but what I am sympathetic to is the fact your accusations will hurt his ability to raise money for his non-profit, because you're publicly calling into question his credibility and ethics.

We here in the Missoura Bar tend to define libel in terms written or published public defamation with intent and knowledge at the time that your defamation wasn't defensible (that it was, in fact, defamation by any name). Were you convinced of Grisamore's ethics infractions and culpability or were you engaging in simple political rhetoric and polemic?

Some would contend that simple reflexive political rhetoric and accusation on one of the state's top 5 political blogs could be construed as defamation and libelous.

If you weren't, as your blog and current top stories contends - one of the top blogs in the state - this wouldn't be an issue. If I slandered you Stephen, by whipering to my dog, I wouldn't have a case.

Ahhhhh, With fame and fortune comes responsibility.

Stephen Bough said...

Dear Member of the Missouri Bar,

It ain't libel. Look at the Form 990. It lists Jeff Grisamore under officer compensation. It lists 3 categories under his name. Add up the categories, it equals $219,506. Either Jeff gets paid that OR the Form 990 is wrong.

If you are a member of the Missouri Bar, how’s the legal research going on public officials suing for libel or slander? I happen to think that linking/citing to the Form 990 and to Grisamore's websites and to official state websites for proof of the allegations give me "the truth shall set you free" defense.

If you are a member of the Missouri Bar, what does being the NY Times v. an important blog v. an unimportant blog have to do with anything relating to lible? Let me know what your legal research reveals.

One thing that we agree on is the responsibility line; for me, for you and Mr. Grisamore. I think you will find that my posts are filled with links, lots of links, too many links. I think that responsibility means proving to any potential reader where the information comes from. That means including case cites, like I have done on this series of exchanges. Baseless accusations about libel are not responsible.

Responsibility, for me, means signing my name. As mentioned earlier, I have new found respect for Rep. Grisamore. He responded intelligently and with his name. Try it.

whistleblower said...

Stephen...

I attempted to influence you to do the right thing.

You don't even know how to read a Form 990. I'm not the only one that pointed that out to you.

You're an arrogant ass.

I hope Jeff sues you. He gave you more than reasonable opportunity to remove the article or print a retraction of your false allegations.

Stephen Bough said...

Well, this is an interesting experiment in democracy.

As I have said several times, I have new found respect for Rep. Grisamore. I have looked carefully at the original post, studied the Form 990, thought about Rep. Grisamore's comments (which are thoughtful and responsive). If Grisamore is being truthful about his salary, then I believe the Form 990 is wrong and should be amended. Rep. Grisamore very intelligently explained his story about the office suites and phone numbers and HB 888.

I believe in the market place of ideas. I believe that Rep. Grisamore deserves some respect for politely responding. I also do not want to harm widows and orphans and doubt that Rep. Grisamore has that goal.

I am not withdrawing this post because I believe it discusses factual statements. I believe that this post and the frank polite discussion by people who signed their name represents why we have a blog of political issues. Democracy is stronger because two versions of the same facts are discussed.

The 5 people who actually read this can look at the form 990, can read HB 888, can look at the IRS codes and can read Rep. Grisamore's response. Many will believe one side; many the other side.

As I have said, I respect Rep. Grisamore much more and I wish his non-profit organization no harm. Let's end this one.

whistleblower said...

When ambulance chasers attack!

Stephen...

I guess it is impossible to teach an ass to add and subtract.

If you would pull your head out for just a moment instead of being so insistent on maligning Mr. Graves you may actually be able to see what is written on the form 990.

Since you are using the numbers at the right of the page, let me point this out. $71,339 + $38,414 = $109,753. If you double that number you come up with $219,506.

It's OK Stephen, a gradeschool math teacher can figure out the correct answer. Too bad you can't.

Are you too ignorant to understand that you have incorrectly added the numbers that would give you the sum, to the sum itself?

Your intent to malign Mr. Grisamore is clear. Do it with the facts.

Do you think that you have immunity from a defamation claim just because this is a blog. If you think that you do, I would suggest that you consult an attorney. :>)

This link may help you understand.

http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-overview.php

Defamation occurs when one's words reflect negatively upon another person's integrity, character, good name and standing in the community and those words tend to expose the other person to public hatred, contempt or disgrace. Coots v. Payton, 280 S.W.2d 47, 53 (Mo. 1955). Defamation includes both libel and slander.

The libeled plaintiff must show a false statement of fact. Opinions, even those that are false or insincere, are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment. In determining whether words are fact or opinion, courts examine the totality of the circumstances in which the statements were made, particularly the following: (1) the common usage or meaning of the alleged defamatory statement; (2) the statement's objective verifiability; (3) the literary context of the statement; and (4) the broad or social context in which the statement appears. Ollman v. Evans, 750 F.2d 970 (D.C. Cir. 1984).

The allegedly libelous statement must be sufficiently precise in its terms to have reasonably defamed the plaintiff. Thus, statements that are ambiguous, vague or subject to an "innocent construction" are not libelous.

The Supreme Court of the United States' decision in New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), and its progeny, require that a statement of and concerning a "public official" or a "public figure" must be made with actual malice in order for the plaintiff to prevail in a libel action.

1. "Actual malice" means making a statement with knowledge that it is false or with reckless disregard of whether it is false. It does not mean hatred or ill-will in the ordinary sense.
2. Public figures are persons who have attained general fame or notoriety in a community or who are involved extensively in society's affairs.

Anonymous said...

Nice work, Blower. If, as you argue, Bough's claimed defamation is based upon a mathematical error, does that not prevent it from being made with actual knowledge of its falsity, thus obliterating any defamation claim?

King and Mr. Spaulding said...

Those of us in the Missuora (and Georgia) Bar hailing (sometimes from from Atlanta, other times) from Rolla always look for the nuance in what people write.

Double counting a salary level either indicates a possible attention disorder or mal intent. Or a combination of both in the exuberance associated with the pursuit of protecting our freedom(s).

whistleblower said...

Anonymous...

The fact that Stephen's mathematical error exists does not relieve him of liability or provide him with a defense.

Blog CCP is not an independent media source like a newspaper. It is a political forum whose numerous articles present an obvious intent to defame Republican/ conservative/ neocons.

Stephen further removed himself from a privilege defense by stating; "Here's the deal, Jeff. Your party ran a horribly nasty campaign against Rev. Tom Haley. You didn't respond to this Blog or the Catholic Conference about Medicaid cuts. You didn't respond about school funding to Lee's Summit or the environmental posts. When the IRS Form 990 is cited for officer compensation, you dispute the truthfulness of the post."

Stephen has demonstrated intent to defame Mr. Grisamore. Since the intent to defame is clear, reckless disregard is much easier to consider.

This is the U.S. We have a protected right to defame. In doing so, you have a responsible to ensure that you have your facts straight.

If the statement is made about a public official - that is a generally prominent person or a person who is actively involved in a public controversy, then it must be proven that the statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard for whether the statement was true or false. In other words, the fact that the statement was false is not enough to recover for defamation.

There are a number of defenses available in a defamation action. Of course, if a statement is true, there can be no action for defamation. Truth is a complete defense. Additionally, if the statement is an expression of an opinion as opposed to a statement of fact, there can be no action for defamation. We do not impose liability in this country for expressions of opinion. However, whether a statement will be deemed to be an expression of opinion as opposed to a statement of fact is not always an easy question to answer. For example, the mere fact that a statement is found in an editorial is not enough to qualify for the opinion privilege if the particular statement contained in the editorial is factual in nature.

Multiple readers have noted Stephen's mathematical error. The fact that Stephen has ignored the errors that were identified, and failed to retract his statements displays reckless disregard for whether the statement was true or false.

whistleblower said...

I almost forgot.

The burden is on Rep. Grisamore to show that Stephen printed the allegedly libelous statement with actual malice. -that shouldn't be too hard.

Stephen Bough said...

I misread the form 990, it shows compensation of $109,000 by adding two lines, not all three lines. Rep. Grisamore, I apologize.

whistleblower said...

Stephen...

I thought you were a little more intelligent than you have demonstrated in this blog.

The purpose of this blog is to malign those with whom you disagree.

I don't have a problem with that! You have a right to offer an opinion based on fact. The problem is that you have offered an opinion that recklessly disregards the facts.

Your blog is not a newspaper. You don't just report the news. If a newspaper makes a mistake, they can simply print a retraction. Why? Because they don't have a clear intent to malign.

When you recklessly disregard the facts and combine them with a clear intent to defame; that is libel. This blog is not "an interesting experiment in democracy". It does, however, demonstrate your lack of knowledge is some areas of the law and expresses an attitude of extreme prejudice when you decide to attack.

I implored you to remove this defamatory post, and pointed out your errors more than two weeks before you acknowledged your error. Your simplistic statement on 10/18 does nothing to restore the good name of Rep. Grisamore.

You have the ability to remove the post. You have a legal obligation to remove this defamatory post. You should think long and hard about whether or not you want to continue to back Rep. Grisamore into a corner.

Dan said...

Whistleblower:

Steve has corrected his understandable error - it is notable that Grisamore has refused to explain the discrepancy between his salary on the 990 and the $88,000 salary he claimed here. One of them is wrong, and they both come from him. Did he lie to the IRS, did he lie to us, or does he have some explanation for the discrepancy? Don't you think Grisamore might want to clear his "good name"?

As for changing blog posts, that's not the way it's done in the blog world - indeed, deletion of prior posts is often considered an unethical attempt to cover tracks.

So far, Bough seems to be the one playing it straight here.

whistleblower said...

Dan...

I think you are confused. Rep. Grisamore did not write a defamatory article directed at Stephen Bough. Rep. Grisamore does not have a duty to defend himself. It really doesn't matter what Rep. Grisamore typed, for it would be of no consequence as his post contained no evidence of intent to defame Stephen Bough.

On the other hand, Stephen Bough does have a duty to ensure that his facts are correct prior to writing a defamatory article about Mr. Grisamore.

I will not attempt to curtail or censor liberal bloggers from writing defamatory opinions, as they have the right to do so under Article I, Section 8 of the Missouri Constitution, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights, but when they recklessly disregard the facts, they should be held legally accountable for their defamatory comments.

Dan said...

It's worth noting that all this bluster is based upon a 2005 990 - we don't have the more up-to-date ones. Also, looking at the forms, it does report that he got paid $98,000 in compensation. Now, it may be that part of that compensation is not paycheck compensation - there are all kinds of IRS rules about how to account for stuff like automobiles, though my understanding is that COPI owned a car that they let Grisamore use.

The long and short of it is that Grisamore may have been earning $98,000 in compensation plus $11,000 in benefits, or he may have been getting less than $98,000 in salary - he says $88,000 - plus other deal-sweeteners, but the total value was still $109,000.

Is that too much? About the best answer I can offer is that the board of directors, whose responsibility it is to make such calls, made that call. While $219,000 would have been clearly too much, $109,000 is more in the gray area - it's a generous salary for a charity with only $1.7 million in revenue, but it's not insanely high.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that Grisamore's claimed salary of $88,000 plus benefits and deal-sweeteners is not necessarily inaccurate, so my question about whether he was lying to us or the IRS, or if there was another explanation, is probably best answered choice "C". There's no evidence he's lying, and I don't want to imply that he is.

Now, as for all your bluster, WB, keeping this forum open for corrections and discussion is a far better antidote for mistakes than is trying to go back and change the record. As it stands, anyone who researches Grisamore will see this extended discussion, and may form opinions based upon it. Were Steve to correct his mistake by deleting the post, it would live on uncorrected in google cache, and the harm would remain - in google cache and whatever other blogs, etc. that may have linked to the mistake. I don't want to take the time or space to give you a tutorial in the way the blogosphere works, but the truth is best served when open and transparent information is offered, and retained. For instance, Steve's claim of $219,000 salary was backed up by a link to a document that showed where the mistake was made. The facts were always out there - the interpretation was the issue.

whistleblower said...

Dan...

You really just don't get it, do you? You seem to think that it's ok to malign someone with false statements that you, Stephen, and KC Blue present as truth, as long as you eventually tell the truth!

You're wrong! You present lies as fact because you really don't give a crap about anyone but yourself, or your political agenda.

When Rep. Grisamore's children are questioned about their father's lack of ethics, should they make sure that those presenting the question have made sure they read the reader’s comments?

The reckless disregard demonstrated by the three of you is unbelievable. Your cavalier attitude towards discrediting a good man is shameful. The comments to an article are not the article itself. Many people don't take the time to read the article. When you google "Jeff Grisamore", all you see is the headline. Here is the exact google result for this blog from the google search. "Blog CCP: Grisamore (47th) has an Ethics Problem That is, however, exactly what Jeff Grisamore is doing. According to KC Blue Blog and the St. ..... It lists Jeff Grisamore under officer compensation. ... "

I'm glad that you decided to point out the long term effects of this malicious article due to archives and links.

As far as google cache goes; the article could remain cached for as little as a few days, but may remain for a few months. I can guarantee you this; it will remain for as long as the article remains posted, therefore, continuing to unjustly defame Rep. Grisamore.

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