The Platte County Commissioners have entered into another questionable contract to spend our tax dollars. They have hired Clout Public Affairs, LLC (Clout) to "create and execute a comprehensive strategy" to educate voters regarding two tax questions that are planned to be on the August ballot. The amount of the contract is $42,816.
In addition to looking like a camouflaged effort to illegally spend tax dollars on campaign activity, there are several other concerns with this contract.
Let's start with the fact that Clout is a division of Axiom Strategies, LLC, a well-known political consulting company, that has also assisted with campaigns of county commissioners. This includes the current campaign of Dagmar Wood, First District Commissioner. Could it benefit her campaign if she were to throw some extra money (our tax dollars) to the company? Even the appearance of impropriety should be avoided.
To learn about Clout, I went to the Secretary of States website to perform a business search. All companies doing business in Missouri are required by law to register with the Secretary of State. Clout Public Affairs, LLC is not registered. I pointed this out to the commissioners and John Elliott informed me that the company is registered in Texas. I advised him that Section 347.153 RSMo. requires foreign companies, like Clout, to register. They still have not registered.
Clout was selected using a competitive process, John Elliott said, while pointing out that they are not legally required to use one. This appears to be some more camouflage.
A true competitive process was apparently not used. There was no written request for proposals describing the services to be rendered. The proposals were not delivered to an objective party, like the County Clerk, to be opened in public. They were not dated, or date stamped as received. Information from one could have easily been shared with the other ahead of time. Clout's proposal showed a total cost of $23,908. The other proposal was for $36,000. Then, services were added to Clout's contract to bring the total to $42,816. Again, even the appearance of impropriety should be avoided.
That they are spending almost $43,000 for a "public education" effort is another matter. More about that later.