Top White supporters back transition from Missouri’s Non-Partisan Courts Plan

(JOPLIN, Mo.) William “Bill” White, candidate for the 129th legislative district in Joplin, announced outgoing Ron Richard’s public endorsement of his candidacy late Friday. The announcement comes after Richard donated $3,000 to the campaign this summer. Also pouring in funds

(JOPLIN, Mo.) William “Bill” White, candidate for the 129th legislative district in Joplin, announced outgoing Ron Richard’s public endorsement of his candidacy late Friday. The announcement comes after Richard donated $3,000 to the campaign this summer.

Also pouring in funds to Elect Bill White: David Humphreys.

Humphreys, the boss behind TAMKO, donated $5,000 to White’s campaign.

Both Humphreys and Richard have supported the repeal of Missouri’s famous “Non-Partisan Court Plan.” They were made famous for their support in an article in the Kansas City Star late October.

When the plan was being considered for removal by the House, legislators reported that the GOP leadership took them behind closed doors and told them to vote the plan out. It passed in the House but not the Senate.

The Star alleged that in that meeting, promises were made for hefty campaign donations. And the donations came.

Over $250,000, according to The Star, poured in to legislators campaign war chests.

The Humphreys family then gave almost half a million dollars to try to get the issue on the ballot, which they failed at doing.

Their interest in the plan? According to The Star, “Some companies believe that, through the political process, they can put judges on the bench who are more conservative and sympathetic to corporations.”

A money trail leading to Humphreys and Richard brands suspician of their influence, and key interest in the race in the 129th.

Shelly Dreyer speaking with voters at the Newton County Watermelon Feed in Neosho. (TFJ Photo/Natalie Preston)

The Missouri Chamber PAC , a big business special interest group, launched a radio ad against White’s primary opponent Shelly Dreyer for being a “St. Louis…liberal trial attorney.”

Dreyer, who grew up in Southewst Missouri doesn’t agree. “I’ve always been a conservative,” she said.

The “liberal” claims come mostly from Dreyer’s association with Ed Hershewe, one southwest Missouri conservative says. Hershewe, Dreyer’s employer, is a prominent figure in the Missouri Democratic fundraising machine. Dreyer said to TFJ in December, “I work with Ed Hershewe as an attorney – I didn’t go to work with him based on what his political beliefs, in fact: I didn’t even know his political beliefs when I started, nor do they matter.”

Wednesday, the Missouri Chamber PAC paid $29,450 to Ozark AdWorks out of Joplin, for the advertisement on radio. On the same day, the PAC received $25,500 from the Southwest Missouri Leadership PAC, a PAC closely associated with Speaker Richard, even sharing the same treasurer, Nick Myers of Joplin.

The ad buy happened just as the Humphreys family donated $25,000 to the Southwest Missouri Leadership PAC. Southwest Missouri Leadership contributed $1,800 earlier this year ahead of their endorsement of White, suggesting significant influence in White and his possibility to be a supporter of an end of the Non-Partisan courts plan.

“Bill is unavailable for major policy discussions until after Tuesday,” said Jimmy Morris, campaign manger for White, regarding White’s support of a repeal of the non-partisan court plan. “Having an opinion on a public policy organization or a change in courts plan is not a Yes or No question.”

Voters go to the polls in the 129th Tuesday.

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