Missouri’s House Republican Campaign Committee is moving on from its executive director at the end of the month, after a Heartlander look Wednesday into the PAC’s money spent and GOP House seats lost in recent years.
The question remains, however, as to whether the HRCC’s curious support of a court challenge to new state Senate districts that actually favor Republicans will continue to go forward – and why that support is there to begin with.
Not long after The Heartlander exposed that the HRCC has paid Palm Strategic Group over $765,000 to get more Republicans elected since 2018 – but has seen the number of GOP seats slide from 116 to 111 – Speaker-elect Jonathan Patterson announced to the Republican caucus that Palm Strategic Group’s Jonathan Ratliff will no longer be HRCC executive director after December.
Patterson said Ratliff had been hired as executive director with the understanding he could still serve other political candidates and campaigns. But Patterson said he feels “very strongly” that the position needs to be full-time, with “no outside work or potential conflicts.” He said Ratliff will serve as a “senior consultant” to GOP legislative leaders and the HRCC to “aid in the transition.”
“I believe we will have a new team in place to ensure strong results in the 2024 fall elections,” Patterson wrote.
Ratliff did not respond to questions from The Heartlander on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, under Ratliff the HRCC for some reason filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief supporting a Democrat-led legal challenge to new Senate districts drawn by the courts after the 2020 Census.
The HRCC’s brief oddly agrees with top Democratic lawyer Chuck Hatfield that the Missouri Supreme Court should redraw the lower court’s Senate districts.
Indeed, the HRCC brief puts the Republican PAC in alignment with a Democratic lawyer, in Hatfield, whose clients have included Planned Parenthood, litigants seeking to expand Medicaid, former Democrat state auditor Nicole Galloway, and the Clean Missouri campaign to draw what would have been more Democrat-friendly legislative districts.
The question is, with its change in executive directors will the HRCC withdraw its amicus brief and pull back from its seemingly incongruous support of yet new Senate districts, given that the current ones are considered favorable to the GOP?
Moreover, observers are wondering what legal standing a House PAC would have in a case involving Senate districts – and whose interests are being served by the HRCC’s injecting itself into the lawsuit.
The HRCC, which has a statewide mission to elect Republicans to the House, and is funded by GOP House members and donors statewide, has intervened in the court case to argue that “the State Senate map drawn by the Judicial Redistricting Commission and approved by the trial court divides Buchanan County virtually down the middle. It also divides the City of Hazelwood. This was completely unnecessary and hence, unlawful.”
The brief also, perhaps unwittingly, allows Democrats who are fueling the case to argue that it’s a bipartisan cause.
In addition, considering the three-quarters of a million spent on Palm Strategic while actually losing seats in the House, Republicans may wonder whether the cost of joining Democrats in a lawsuit over Senate districts is a wise use of campaign funds.