Attorney Accuses County Municipalities of Using City Dollars Against Better Together

By on March 14, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  A politically connected lawyer working for a mystery client has sent letters to all 88 municipalities in St. Louis County demanding they account for any use of public dollars against the petition to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Charles W. Hatfield, a lawyer at Stinson Leonard Street in Jefferson City, sent letters on Wednesday morning saying that Missouri law prohibits political bodies from using tax dollars to oppose a ballot measure, and that even putting out information on the issue could break the law. Hatfield said he believed some of the municipalities already were.

Municipal officials decried the move as a scare tactic.

“This is an attempt to stifle me from speaking to the residents of Des Peres about what could potentially happen to their city, to their services, to their police,” said Mark Becker, the mayor of Des Peres and a partner at the Hullverson Law Firm in St. Louis. “I can’t think of anything that would be more un-democratic than that.”

Ed Rhode, a spokesman for advocacy group Better Together, which filed the initiative petition with the state, said that Hatfield didn’t work for Better Together nor its campaign, Unite STL, and that Better Together knew nothing about the letters.

Hatfield, who was chief of staff to then- Attorney General Jay Nixon and ran Nixon’s campaign for U.S. Senate, said that his client did not want to be identified but that it was someone with whom he was already doing business. Hatfield has worked for banks, insurance companies and, recently, the Clean Missouri ethics reform initiative. He has also represented the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, whose board members are appointed by St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. Krewson and Stenger are vocal supporters of Better Together.

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