Editorial Roundup: Missouri

St. Louis Post-Dispatch. November 28, 2021.

Editorial: It’s long past time for the Senate ethics panel to address Hawley’s Jan. 6 actions

Ten months after a group of Senate Democrats lodged ethics complaints into the conduct of Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas regarding their roles in sparking the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the Senate Ethics Committee has shown no sign of movement. Both senators tell Politico they haven’t even been contacted by the committee.

The House recently moved with appropriate speed to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, for promoting a cartoon fantasy in which his character kills a fellow member of Congress.

Jan. 6 wasn’t a fantasy; it was real, and the culpability of these two senators must be determined.

Hawley and Cruz were the first two senators to object to certification of Joe Biden’s clear victory in the 2020 election results, citing (with zero evidence) supposed concerns about the election’s integrity. That was the same baseless, toxic nonsense then-President Donald Trump had been spewing since before the election. Such talk whipped up the mob of Trump loyalists to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Hawley was the first senator to object to certification, which is the only reason there had to be a floor vote on the issue. That vote provided the rallying point for the mob. Without that, the attack might not have even happened.

More than a dozen Republican senators initially said they would join Hawley in voting against certification. But after the mob attacked, most of them realized the damage the charade had done to the country and backed off, voting to certify an election in which — again — there wasn’t a single valid indication of significant irregularities. But not Hawley. Even after the violence, he persisted in voting with a few other senators to continue promoting Trump’s big lie that Biden’s win was illegitimate.

Hawley even had the nerve to give a glowering Senate floor speech later that night condemning the violence — an arsonist standing among the ashes. If he had an ounce of honor, he’d have heeded our Jan. 7 call for his resignation (we certainly weren’t alone on that). But at this point, why even talk about honor?

Hawley, of course, now claims victimhood, alleging the ethics complaint would punish him for exercising his official power to object to election results. But the complaint, filed in late January, specifically cites the Code of Ethics for Government Service, which requires that elected officials put “loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department.” Just because there’s a mechanism in place allowing senators to object to election results doesn’t mean it’s OK for Hawley to abuse that process for crass political gain.

Hawley and Cruz have the right to defend themselves from the allegations — but so far, they haven’t even had to. The Ethics Committee should stop sitting on this.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editorial has been updated to clarify that Sens. Hawley and Cruz were the first, but not the only, senators to object to Biden’s election confirmation.

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Jefferson City News Tribune. November 29, 2021.

Editorial: Make a difference with Giving Tuesday

We’ve collectively started the holiday shopping season, taking advantage of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

We’ve collectively started the holiday shopping season, taking advantage of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Let’s not forget about Giving Tuesday.

It’s the annual worldwide day of giving that occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which is today. It was created in 2012 as a simple way of encouraging people to do good. The idea came from the 92nd Street Y and its Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York City. GivingTuesday is now an independent nonprofit and a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate and celebrate generosity.

“Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to give,” according to givingtuesday.org.

Last year, more than 33 million participants across the United States gave a total of $2.47 billion to good causes.

But the movement, which was a response to the Black Friday commercialism, doesn’t just want your money. It also wants your time and talents.

There are many worthy local organizations that would love to have your contribution of time or money. Some of them have struggled during the pandemic.

In December, the News Tribune will highlight some of the many charitable causes that are seeking donations of time and money during the holiday season.

So, while you should consider giving today on Giving Tuesday, don’t limit your generosity to a single day. It’s needed year-round.

For more information about Giving Tuesday, visit givingtuesday.org.

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Kansas City Star. November 29, 2021.

Editorial: Kevin Strickland gets a measure of justice, but Missouri needs to write him a check

He had to wait more than 42 years — more than almost anyone in U.S. history — but Kevin Strickland received a small measure of justice Tuesday.

Judge James Welsh, a retired appellate judge, granted a motion to exonerate Strickland and ordered him released from prison. Strickland, 62, was convicted of a 1978 triple murder he had nothing to do with.

Most of his adult life was stolen by the state.

Missourians should celebrate the outcome of Strickland’s decades-long pursuit of justice. We congratulate Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who sought Strickland’s release after the General Assembly enacted a statute allowing her to do so.

And the community must wrap its arms around Kevin Strickland, and help him make the most of his new freedom.

But Strickland wasn’t saved by the “system.” The system put him in prison, erroneously, and worked overtime to keep him there. The “system” fought viciously to keep him in custody, long after the rest of the world became convinced of his innocence.

For this, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt deserve the condemnation of every Missourian who thinks justice is real, and not a joke.

Parson refused to commute Parson’s sentence, or issue a pardon, after receiving several requests to do so. Schmitt sent lawyers to court to block Strickland’s release, and to exercise every possible delaying tactic to deny the inmate his day in court.

Both men stammered and sputtered on Thursday when asked to explain their brutality. Parson said he “respected” the judge’s decision. He said nothing about respecting Kevin Strickland. The governor revealed no regrets about preventing Strickland from visiting his dying mother, or attending her funeral.

A spokesperson for Schmitt said the politically ambitious attorney general “defended the rule of law,” which insults common sense: Strickland, who is Black, spent four decades in prison because the rule of law in Missouri was violated, grotesquely. Schmitt was an integral part of that. If the “rule of law” means keeping an innocent person in prison, what kind of law are we talking about?

As of late Tuesday, neither man had publicly apologized to Strickland for the state’s stunning error and stubborn refusal to own up to it. If either had any decency, or even the will to fake it, they would tell him they’re sorry. But then, they aren’t.

This newspaper worked tirelessly to investigate and report on Strickland’s innocence. But let’s also be clear: If The Star contributed in any way to Strickland’s original conviction, through less than thorough reporting or anti-Black bias, we do apologize to him, and to the community.

Missouri law doesn’t require compensation for Strickland’s decades in prison, so he’s a free man with friends but few resources. “I have nothing,” he told a reporter.

Private donors may help, but it won’t be enough. The governor, and the attorney general, must ask lawmakers to compensate Strickland next year. The Kansas standard — $65,000 for each year in custody — sounds about right. It would cost Missouri about $2.7 million, which it surely has.

If they won’t do it, a lawsuit should change their minds. Then the legislature can consider a broader bill requiring more compensation for the wrongly convicted.

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