Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meet Dave Spence: Missouri's Latest Embarrassment

By Nathan Rothwell

Screenshot of Gov. Nixon's ad criticizing Spence
The “Show-Me State” is no stranger to politicians who are all but morally bankrupt. Senator Roy Blunt values the “right” of religious employers to impose their moral codes on their employees, denying them the right to health care. Todd Akin, the man vying to join Blunt this year as Missouri’s other senator, has earned national attention for his views on rape and women’s issues, which appear to stem from the Medieval Era.  

And if this weren’t bad enough, another Missouri politician joins the “How badly can we embarrass this state?” club – Dave Spence, the Republican candidate for governor against incumbent Jay Nixon.

State Democrats have been having fun at the expense of Spence’s campaign, which has at times appeared inept. For example, Spence’s campaign website touted his degree in economics from University of Missouri-Columbia; however, earlier this year it was discovered that Spence in fact did not earn a degree in economics, but rather home economics. Spence claimed it was a simple mistake, but a circulated campaign flier also boasted of Spence’s “economics” degree, also claiming that he attended Mizzou’s business school. While his website eventually corrected the error, it didn’t escape Jay Leno’s ever-watchful eye.

Did Spence and his campaign knowingly lie about his background, or was this a mere clerical error? Some of his supporters argue for the latter, but his history of lying makes that argument difficult to swallow.

While putting his home economics degree to good use in the private sector, Spence also sat on the board of Reliance Bank for six years, which includes the period in 2009 that Reliance Bank received a $40 million taxpayer-funded bailout as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Reliance still has not repaid that loan, and Spence claimed that his resignation from the board in 2011 was due to the bank’s decision not to repay the bailout.

Sounds all well and good, right? When it became clear Reliance planned to stick it to taxpayers, Spence wanted nothing to do with them. Trouble is, that’s a lie. Spence voted along with the rest of the Reliance Board to forego repaying the U.S. Treasury in 2011, and the bank submitted a form to the Securities and Exchange Commission which explicitly said Spence’s resignation was “not related to any disagreements with [Reliance Bank’s] operations, policies or practices.”

Governor Nixon’s campaign has pounced on this issue, creating several ads which call attention to Spence’s relationship with Reliance. And even though Spence admitted to voting against repaying TARP funds, his campaign bizarrely issued a cease and desist order to nearly three dozen Missouri radio stations airing Nixon’s ads, claiming their retelling of events was “false and defamatory.” So far none of the stations have agreed to pull the ads, which should paint a clear picture as to just how seriously they are taking Spence’s whining charges.

To be fair, Spence’s antics aren’t quite as disdainful as those of Blunt or Akin, who only care about Missouri women when they aren’t acting “ladylike.” However, they should be enough to keep voters from putting him in Missouri’s highest elected office. The last thing this state needs is to be run by a man who isn’t even honest about his own college degree, let alone his relationship with taxpayer-funded bank loans. 

Current polls show Nixon enjoying a 54-35% lead over Spence, as of last week. If they tell us anything, it would be that most Missouri voters see Spence as just another black eye for the state.

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