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That time Sinquefield's hired guns went shopping. For journalists.

We're blown away by Rex Sinquefield's hired guns' attempts to buy journalists (at $250 a pop!) for maybe-anonymous blog posts about how Rex Sinquefield's radical tax ideas are totally awesome. Here's how Bob Priddy at Missouri summarizes the scandalous actions

Several of our Capitol Press Corps colleagues got an amazing and amazingly stupid offer a few days ago, apparently based on the idea that unlimited money can buy unlimited things—state laws, the people who write them, parts of the state constitution.


A public relations company hired by Rex Sinquefield’s Grow Missouri organization has sent letters to several political reporters offering to pay them $250  per article to write two or three articles a month favorable to Sinquefield’s causes for the Grow Missouri blog.  At least one of the offers said the authorship of the articles could be kept secret because there would not be a byline.

Yeah. Yikes. 

Condemnation of the attempted payola has been swift and strong.  Here are 11 top responses that sum up how professional journalists feel about this unethical nonsense from Team Sinquefield: 

Alex Stuckey with The Post-Dispatch, breaking the whole scandal wide open: 

"You'll be happy to know this reporter cannot be bought." 


Riverfront Times:

"Really, Grow Missouri? We're supposed to believe you 'didn't know' journalists from The St. Louis Post-Dispatch...[and] St. Louis Public Radio can't get paid to anonymously write for you on the side?"

Steve Vockrodt in The Pitch:

"Rex Sinquefield wants to grow Missouri with blimps and payola...'In no way, shape or form," [Aaron Willard, treasurer for Grow Missouri] reportedly said, 'we absolutely don't condone trying to pay for, buy, get influence with reporters or journalists.' They may not condone it, but they still tried to do it. 

Rudi Keller in The Columbia Daily Tribune:

"The lowest form of reporter, and one I hope has long since been run out of the business, is one who takes secret payments from people they cover. It could be due to my inherent mediocrity, but this has never happened before in any form. I have never been offered a job by a politician or political organization... This particular offer had the rankest odor of anything I have encountered in my professional career."

Tony Messenger in the Post-Dispatch:

 "Sinquefield was in fact trying to buy some Missouri reporters. He’s already got lobbyists, flacks, tame economists, politicians at every level in several states, chess teams and even a blimp. Why not some reporters, too? [...] First he spends about $6 million creating and funding Grow Missouri, then he has his people pretend it’s a grassroots organization. Then he spends some more money on his own think tank, which conducts or writes about other studies funded by Mr. Sinquefield, and then he pays a company, Skyword, to market the infomercials as though they are actual objective journalism." 

Bob Priddy of Missourinet:

"Don’t try to make it up to me now. It’s too late.  I don’t forget a snub. Besides, I’ll fire anybody in my shop who accepts your kind offer." 

Scott Charton, former AP bureau chief in Jefferson City, now a PR professional: "Rex Sinquefield @WeAreGrowMO $ offers to reporters went over like a Baby Ruth in a punchbowl..." 

Eli Yokley of PoliticMO and the Joplin Globe:  

1. Buy a blimp. 2. Buy some trucks.  3. Buy a concert series.  4. Buy a drone. 5. Buy some reporters.  95 #GrowMO ideas still to come.

Kevin Horrigan of the Post-Dispatch: 

"Ten grand a month for a friggin blimp, but only $250 for primo content. And your soul." 

Mandy St. Amand continuous news editor at the Post-Dispatch:

"Insulting. They must think journalists can be bought/sold like some pols."