Tarwater Vulnerable? – Day 85 of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout

It has been 15 years since Dan Tarwater was first elected to the Jackson County legislature. I remember the election well – it was my first exposure to how slimy Jackson County politics can be. Tarwater cruised to a victory over a young lawyer named Matt Davis, partially by recruiting a woman named Mary Davis to appear on the ballot as M. Davis. Tarwater was part of the Bill Waris operation, and Matt Davis was like that brave student in Tiananmen Square, only the tank didn’t even slow down.

Since that time, Tarwater hasn’t faced a serious opponent. According to Missouri Ethics Commission reports, it’s been well over a decade since Dan Tarwater has raised more than $500 to support a campaign. Even in 2008, when other unchallenged politicians were raising money for their more embattled friends, Tarwater sat on the sidelines and only made token contributions to a couple organizations.

While Tarwater was a tank in 1994, 15 years can gather a whole lot of rust. Since that time, he has gathered bad publicity in the form of a brawl with another legislator, on-again-off-again bribery issues asserted by former Chair Katheryn Shields concerning COMBAT funds (he’s the only one on the Anti-Drug Committee who hasn’t been convicted for criminal financial behavior), and he’s given his aide lavish bonuses from county funds. Et cetera.

Now that Tarwater has come out aggressively against Ethical Home Rule, he has made himself an attractive target for a spirited campaign in 2010. I’ve heard rumblings that some budding politicos in the south Ward Parkway corridor are talking to friends about running on a pro-Ethical Home Rule platform.

Here’s a map of the district. Take a second and think about all the good people in that district, who could really bring something fresh and positive to the Jackson County legislature . . .

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