St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Koster should return Comcast contribution

Jake Wagman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that cable giant Comcast Financial Agency Corporation contributed $2,500 to the reelection campaign of Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D, former R) on Wednesday of this week, one day after Koster (on behalf of the state) joined in a settlement that allows Comcast to merge with over-the-air television network NBC.

The FCC approved the merger shortly after the settlement was reached. This dispenses with anti-trust concerns about the resulting creation of an entertainment conglomerate.

The contribution came to light so quickly because new Missouri ethics rules require immediate disclosure of large donations made during the legislative session. Comcast's donation was more than double what had been allowed under Missouri's former contribution limits.

Wagman quoted a spokesperson for Koster's office trying to explain away the apparent conflict of interest by distancing Koster from the negotiations' heavy lifting. But Wagman, ordinarily an apologist for establishment Democrats like Koster, observed insightfully, "So, in other words, it must be a coincidence that an out of state company with limited operations in Missouri gave Koster a campaign contribution the day after he signed an agreement pivotal to their [sic] future growth."

Since Missouri law allows campaigns not to report contributions which the campaign rejects within 10 business days after receipt, Koster's reporting of the contribution means his campaign accepted it.

This sure smells like "pay to play." At minimum, the contribution represented a reward for playing along. In addition, the ethical rules that apply to Koster's conduct as an attorney require him to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Koster should cleanse himself as best he can and return Comcast's contribution as soon as possible.


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