Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#MOSen: Sen Jim Inhofe on US Oil Production

At a round table discussion on energy, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) debunked the myth that it would take ten years to develop America's untapped oil reserves. Citing Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm, Inhofe argues that it would take 70 days to get the first barrel of oil to market if the US were to open more federal lands to drilling.

Inhofe was in St. Louis campaigning for Republican Todd Akin on Monday, 10/29/2012. The two discussed the impact that Sen Claire McCaskill's and President Barack Obama's energy policies would have on Missouri residents. McCaskill has supported the President's effort to grant the EPA more authority over greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide. In effect, McCaskill has helped position the EPA so that it can implement cap and trade without a vote in Congress.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#MOSen: Military Service is a Family Tradition for Todd Akin

While campaigning in south St. Louis county, Todd Akin took a minute to respond to Claire McCaskill's claim that he would be weak on veterans issues. In point of fact, Akin's family has numerous service members including himself, his father, and three of his sons, so he is particularly attuned to veterans issues.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Photos: Todd Akin Energy Round-table with Senator Jim Inhofe #MOSen

US Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma was in south St. Louis county Monday for an energy round-table at McArthur's Bakery with Republican candidate for US Senate in Missouri, Todd Akin. Inhofe and Akin's message was that the policies of Claire McCaskill will necessarily make energy more expensive, so a vote for Claire McCaskill is a vote for higher energy bills.

J'Accuse... Chris Koster!

In October of 2010, I broke the story of racial discrimination suffered by Stephanie Patton at the hands of Missouri bureaucrats in the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS):
Stephanie Patton, an African-American woman, opened Peace of Mind Adult Day Care in 1993. It was the first adult day care in the Show Me State to specifically cater to African-Americans. Most of Stephanie's clients are poor, so much of her funding came from Medicaid. She was driven out of business in 2009 by the combined forces of DSS, HealthNet, and DHSS. This entrepreneur employed ten people and the DHSS shut her down in the middle of a recession.


Here's what [Judge Chapel] wrote [emphasis added]:
Patton testified that Blum called her a "nigger" and said she was illiterate during the October 16, 2008 inspection. We consider this as a claim that DHSS's actions were the result of a racially discriminatory animus and that DHSS's actions deprived Patton of due process and equal protection of the laws, in violation of U.S. Const. amend. 5, 14 and 15, and Mo. Const. art. I, §§ 2 and 10.
While's there's much more, the main point is that the state of Missouri sued Stephanie for nearly a half million dollars of Medicaid fraud and lost. In addition, DHSS was found to have shown racially discriminatory animus toward her. The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District has a slightly different take on that aspect of the decision (full appeals court ruling).

Having lost the half million dollar Medicaid fraud case, Attorney General Chris Koster decided to harass Stephanie with a trumped up charge of stealing.

On January 4th, 2011, Koster's office filed criminal charges against Stephanie. The AG's office charged her with stealing less than $1,500. In essence, Koster's claim was that $1,500 of Medicaid payments that she had received were stolen. The AG's office held that because they didn't think she should be paid by Medicaid and yet she had been paid by Medicaid, that those payments constituted theft on her part. Basically, Attorney General Chris Koster alleged that the act of depositing checks was a criminal offense.

A warrant was issued for Stephanie's arrest.

She had lost her business and therefore her income as a result of her legal battle with DHSS. Her car had been repossessed. Stephanie's house was in foreclosure. She struggled to put together enough money for bail. Once she did, she turned herself in and spent a couple of hours in jail while being processed.

Stephanie could not afford an attorney, so she was represented by a public defender at a hearing in late February of 2011. At that hearing, the AG's office asked for a grand jury investigation. It seems odd to me that a grand jury would be impaneled for a case alleging the theft of less than $1,500. Understandably, Stephanie was both upset and depressed to be the subject of a grand jury investigation.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares she has already come sustained by her faith, family, and friends. Her faith found re-assurance on March 21st, 2011, as this chapter of her life, where she was unjustly branded a criminal by an over-reaching Attorney General, came to an end. At her hearing that Monday morning, the county prosecutor, representing the AG's office, asked the judge to dismiss the charges against Stephanie. The judge did exactly that.


#MOSen: Claire McCaskill has Sold Out Missouri

The transcript of the Todd Akin ad above is hard hitting. I've added links so you can review the facts:
It's been revealed, Claire McCaskill's husband was caught cutting business deals in the Senate dining room, selling tax credits tied to Obama's stimulus money, money Claire McCaskill voted for. McCaskill uses her position and power to cash in. It's no surprise that McCaskill thinks she's above the law, she didn't pay her taxes but voted to raise ours. The arrogance and corruption of Claire McCaskill. Dealing herself in. Selling us out.
Just last week, the National Legal and Policy Center identified $20 million dollars in stimulus funding that McCaskill voted to send to her husband's businesses. That's in addition to the $40 million of stimulus identified earlier this month.

Claire McCaskill and her husband, Joseph Shepard, profiteer off public programs that are suppose to help the poor. The website for Shepard's company, Sugar Creek Realty, LLC, claims that they've facilitated $315 million in tax credits for a "representative" set of affordable housing projects--not the full project list. Shepard's businesses syndicate those tax credits for their clients. Assuming that they make a gain of 10% to 25% in tax credit arbitrage, Shepard's companies have realized $31 million to $79 million in revenue from just those representative projects.

Having bought Shepard a private portfolio of "affordable" housing with your tax dollars, you now get to subsidize the unearned income McCaskill and Shepard realize on that portfolio. At a minimum, they receive $2.2 million each year in rent and interest on security deposits from those privatized, publicly financed assets.

While their portfolio expands, while their bank accounts swell, you get stuck, not just with the bill, but with the debt. Before Claire McCaskill was elected to the US Senate, we did not have trillion dollar deficits. The fiscal recklessness of McCaskill in conjunction with her aparent self-dealing of stimulus funds, is a damning indictment of her tenure in the US Senate and reason enough to bring her home.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Democrats Are Facing a Backlash from #Ladysmarts

Julie Borowski produced the above satirical take on Lena Dunham's pro-Obama ad. Watch it--it's quite funny. Julie's YouTube description includes links to her criticisms of the president:
Borowski has hit on a point made by John O'Sullivan of National Review Online. In How Obama’s Tactics Repel Women Voters O'Sullivan notes:
One of the most striking oddities of the Obama campaign’s appeal to women, indeed, is how it not only objectifies them but even reduces them to their “lady parts.” The campaign might even be called “The Vagina Dialogues” since it talks to women as if they were walking, talking, and voting vaginas with no other value or interests.
And that objectification of liberal women voters has created the #ladysmarts backlash--a new twitter hashtag which succinctly captures the revulsion many women feel at being reduced to sex objects. Because the Democrat message to single women is little more than "vote your vagina", thoughtful women looking for a more complete candidate will have to look past the jackass party.

#MOSoS: Shane Schoeller's "Show-Me Voter ID Tour" Visits St. Louis

Speaker of the House Tim Jones opens the video above and introduces (at 8:10) Republican candidate for Attorney General, Ed Martin. After some remarks, Martin introduces (at 14:05) Mississippi's Secretary of State, Delbert Hoseman, who was in Missouri supporting Shane Schoeller in our Secretary of State race. Schoeller's remarks begin at the 20 minute mark. Schoeller talks about the need to curb voter fraud with photo voter ID.

Schoeller's campaign website includes a press release about this stop on his ‘Show-Me Voter ID Tour’:
“Across the country, Americans overwhelmingly support common sense voter ID laws that will make our elections fair and keep them free of fraud,” Hosemann said.  “In Mississippi, voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional voter ID law similar to Shane Schoeller’s proposal for Missouri. Mississippi and Missouri citizens know best how to ensure the integrity of the vote. But unfortunately, the Justice Department continues to attack voter ID laws in many states, including my state. Our country needs more Secretaries of States like Shane Schoeller that will stand up for what’s right, even in the face of attacks from the Justice Department. Shane Schoeller is a strong, courageous leader with proven leadership capabilities that will fight for a common sense voter ID law, clean up the state’s voter rolls, and stop election fraud.”

Saturday, October 27, 2012

#MOSen: Akin's Latest Ad: Jobs & Paychecks

Transcript supplied by Todd Akin's campaign:
The blessings of a good job and a good paycheck can be seen in the joy of every brother, sister, parent, child. Because a strong economy means stronger families. Married 37 years, the father of 6, Todd Akin puts our families first in everything he does. That's why he has a plan to create jobs by cutting taxes, reducing regulations and empowering small business. Better jobs, stronger families. Todd Akin for U.S. Senate. Akin: I'm Todd Akin and I approved this message.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Voice of Experience Speaks Out Against Socialism

Fox News reports on the ad above:
It's one of the more personal ads of the 2012 campaign.

But no presidential campaign or super PAC is behind it. Rather, a new TV ad and Web video that warns of the ills of socialism while urging America to vote Republican next month is financed by Hungarian-born billionaire Thomas Peterffy.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

#INSen: Has Joe Donnelly Locked His Son in the Closet?

Democrat Joe Donnelly is running against Republican Richard Mourdock in Indiana's race for US Senate. Allegedly, Donnelly has disowned his gay son. Indiana Tea Party blogger Angry White Boy (AWB) has this:
A Democratic gay activist has stated that Joe Donnelly, Jr. is gay, and his father, Senate Candidate Joe Sr, will have nothing to do with him and will not discuss him. This has also been confirmed with an additional source.
AWB also notes that even that pariah of the left, Dick Cheney, showed greater love for his gay daughter and commitment to his family than has Donnelly.

h/t Greg Wright for emailing me with the link to AWB's post. Wright, a certified fraud investigator, was instrumental in exposing the fact that Dick Lugar has not lived in Indiana since the 1970s.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Meet Your Landlord America: It's Claire McCaskill

Meet Your Landlord: Claire McCaskill
According to former Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill, her husband brings in at least $2,200,000 from his low-income tenants each year. You, the tax payer, subsidize their $183,333 a month lifestyle through polices ostensibly designed to help the poor, like Section 8 housing.

I've arrived at this figure based on my analysis of section IIIB, Non-publicly Traded Assets and Unearned Income Sources, of McCaskill's 2011 financial disclosure. That section lists hundreds of companies that McCaskill's husband, Joseph Shepard, has a financial interest in. Nearly all of the companies listed there have little or no value and generate little or no income for Shepard and McCaskill. Most are "real estate affordable housing". I set aside the companies that generate little revenue and only considered assets that generate income in either the $100,000 to a $1,000,000 category or the $1,000,000+. I reduced this data set further--just considering the companies that generated rent and interest income under the assumption that those are the companies that are realizing the revenue from Shepard's low-income tenants in the form of both monthly rent payments and interest on security deposits. As the chart below illustrates, the revenue from three of these companies includes some capital gains.

My estimate that McCaskill and Shepard are realizing $2,200,000 in annual revenue most of which is derived from the monthly rent checks of their impoverished tenants, is clearly on the low end. Three of the companies above generate income in excess of a million dollars each year, I assumed the other companies only generate $100,000 in annual revenue, and I omitted all smaller sources of rent and interest revenue.

The reality is that you, the taxpayer, bought Joseph Shepard an investment portfolio of Section 8 rental properties, some of which were subsidized with almost $40 million in stimulus dollars, and you, the taxpayer, along with his needy tenants continue to pay him each month to the tune of millions of dollars a year. It's like Shepard and McCaskill are conducting their own class-war where they transfer the meager earnings of the poor and your tax dollars into their bank accounts. As I wrote a few weeks ago:
While income levels for American workers have fallen to 1989 levels, McCaskill has benefited from government programs intended to help the poor. She's the 18th wealthiest member of the 535 members of Congress. And that wealth was built on an empire of "affordable housing." 
Every war has its profiteers and America's longest war, the War on Poverty is no exception. If you want to find the waste in America's welfare programs, you need look no further than McCaskill's bank account.
We have to get rid of the policies that allow this to happen and the first step is to cut off Shepard's access to the US Senate Dining Room by making sure that Claire McCaskill loses on November 6th. The time has come to fire your landlord!

Update: Thanks to Lisa for having me on Missouri Grassroots radio tonight to discuss this story! I join her program around the 11 minute mark.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#MOSen: Is McCaskill Financing a Zombie Army with Tax Credits?

Senator Claire McCaskill's husband, Joseph Shepard, is the man behind Sugar Creek Realty, LLC. When I dug into the $315 million in tax credits that Sugar Creek arranged, I noticed something odd involving a $3 million tax credit that went to Lewistown Apartments, LP. Lewistown was one of three projects that participated in that award, so they probably did not receive the full $3 million.

Nonetheless, I question the wisdom of awarding tax credits to a company whose registered agent has been dead since the Clinton administration.

#MOSen: Claire McCaskill: How to Secure a Senate Seat with $2 Million in Loans

From Wikipedia's Claire McCaskill entry:
In April 2002, McCaskill married St. Louis businessman Joseph Shepard. Shepard lent $1.6 million to McCaskill's 2004 gubernatorial campaign and also had business interests in the nursing home industry. Because as state auditor McCaskill was responsible for auditing the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which regulates the state's nursing home system, Shepard's financial interests in the industry became an issue during the 2004 gubernatorial campaign.
McCaskill's 2005 campaign finance report shows the astounding debt she amassed in her failed 2004 gubernatorial campaign: $1,643,411.39. The relevant page from that report is below.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Star Parker: #MOSen Race Model for the Nation

IMG_0613Star Parker of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education has weighed in on Missouri's race for US Senate between liberal incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and conservative Republican Todd Akin. Parker has labeled the Missouri Senate race model for the nation and takes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to task for endorsing McCaskill:
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in its recent endorsement of McCaskill, "Todd Akin ... comes out of the new incarnation of the Missouri Republican Party, the one based on peddling simplistic solutions to fearful 'values voters.' " 
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that for the years 2006 through 2010, 26 percent of the population of St. Louis, which is almost half black, lived below the poverty line. It doesn't seem to much faze the Post-Dispatch that poverty in its own city persists at levels 60 percent above the national rate. It's more concerned about a conservative getting elected, who might actually try to do things differently. 
Whereas insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results, doing things differently -- like freeing up poor parents to send their kids to church schools and promoting politically incorrect traditional values -- is "simplistic" for liberals and the Post-Dispatch editors."

#MOSen: Why Aren't the Webster Agency Partnerships Listed on Claire McCaskill's Financial Disclosure?

According to the Missouri Secretary of State website, Claire McCaskill's husband, Joseph Shepard, is a partner in at least six companies that are not listed on McCaskill's most recent financial disclosure form:
  1. Aurora Housing Associates I, LP
  2. Barry Senior Associates I, LP
  3. Fulton Associates II, LP
  4. Hermitage Associates I, LP
  5. Marmaduke Associates I, LP
  6. Washington Associates I, LP

Why aren't these six companies listed on Claire McCaskill's financial disclosure when her husband has an obvious financial interest in each of them?

In February of 2006 Craig Towerman filed the paperwork to create Webster Agency, Inc. Last week I briefly mentioned Towerman when I reported that he is the General Council of Sugar Creek Realty, LLC. I've posted the seven documents that Webster Agency has filed with Missouri's Secretary of State on Scribd.

Webster Agency was created to act as a registered agent for companies in Missouri and is currently the registered agent for 80 companies. Fifty of those companies appear on McCaskill's financial disclosure; however, thirty do not. Six of those thirty are listed above. There are another three companies who identify Shepard's flagship company, The Lockwood Group, as a partner:
  1. BAJV Limited Partnership
  2. Lockwood Venture Partners 1988, LP
  3. Westfield Housing Associates, A Limited Partnership
Perhaps there's a reason that these companies were omitted; however, McCaskill's disclosure lists three other Lockwood Venture Partners--for 1985, 1986, and 1987--and those three all use Webster Agency as their registered agent.

Why aren't these three companies listed on Claire McCaskill's financial disclosure?

My list of questions about Claire McCaskill's financial disclosure keeps growing. In the past, I've asked:

The complete list of companies that Webster Agency, Inc., represents is in the spreadsheet below:
Registered Agent Webster Agency, Inc.

Update: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the Instalanche! It broke the embedded spreadsheet object so you'll have to follow the link immediately above to see the complete list of companies that Webster Agency represents. You'll also want to read my coverage of McCaskill's hypocrisy on whistle-blowers.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

#MOSen: Claire McCaskill: One-time Champion of the Whistle-blower

There was a time--captured in the video above--when Claire McCaskill fought for the protection of whistle-blowers. But that time has passed.

Remember Inspector General Gerald Walpin? Walpin found irregularities at a non-profit run by Obama supporter, Kevin Johnson, and was ultimately let go for blowing the whistle as the Wall Street Journal reported:
...this case appears to be one in which an IG was fired because he criticized a favorite Congressional and executive project (AmeriCorps), and refused to bend to political pressure to let the Sacramento mayor have his stimulus dollars. 
There's also the question of how Mr. Walpin was terminated. He says the phone call came from Norman Eisen, the Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, who said the President felt it was time for Mr. Walpin to "move on," and that it was "pure coincidence" he was asked to leave during the St. HOPE controversy. Yet the Administration has already had to walk back that claim. 
That's because last year Congress passed the Inspectors General Reform Act, which requires the President to give Congress 30 days notice, plus a reason, before firing an inspector general. A co-sponsor of that bill was none other than Senator Obama. Having failed to pressure Mr. Walpin into resigning (which in itself might violate the law), the Administration was forced to say he'd be terminated in 30 days, and to tell Congress its reasons.
Ah... The Inspectors General Reform Act of 2008, that takes me back to those halcyon days of McCaskill's support for whistle-blowers--support codified in the annuals of the Senate where she is listed, not as a co-sponsor, but rather as the sponsor of that august bit of legislation. And, to show her independence from an over-reaching executive drunk on power, McCaskill came to the defense of Gerald Walpin, right?

Well, no. She dutifully lifted the rug so the Obama administration could sweep the remains of the Walpin saga under it. As 24thState commented at the time:
It's her law that was violated. If she can't defend her own law against an overzealous Obama administration, then one wonders why she bothered to write it in the first place.
Friday, the Daily Caller ran the headline: McCaskill won’t acknowledge husband’s former employee as ‘whistle-blower,’ also won’t define term. Since she's struggling to define the term, perhaps she should watch the video above to restore her memory.

With the businesses of McCaskill's husband, Joseph Shepard, under scrutiny because of $39 million in stimulus funds that they received, hundreds of millions in tax credits, and recent allegations that Shepard closed some of his business deals in the Senate Dining Room, we see the spectacle of Claire McCaskill going a second round with her own petard--that discarded principal of defending the whistle-blower. Friday, she defended her husband by attacking the Craig Woods, the man who alleged that Shepard closed some business deals in the Senate Dining Room:
“Craig Woods is not a whistleblower,” McCaskill spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki said in an email to TheDC on Friday. “He is a convicted felon who has lied repeatedly about his employment history just like he’s doing now.”
Commenting on the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits that businesses associated with Shepard have received, Patrick Tuohey of the Missouri Record observed:
Developers are offered sweet deals to build projects and permitted to shuffle the tax benefits through complex transactions. In this case, one prime beneficiary appears to be the spouse of a sitting US Senator. One can reasonably argue that relationship helps him line his own pockets.
The allegations of Craig Woods support that conclusion. Assuming there's a guest registry for the Senate Dining Room, one wonders what names appear next to Joseph Shepard's.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Romney up 11 in Missouri

Big news from Rasmussen: Mitt Romney is up by 11 in their latest poll in Missouri:
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Missouri Voters, taken the night after the second presidential debate, finds Romney with 54% support to President Obama’s 43%. One percent (1%) favors some other candidate, and three percent (3%) remain undecided.
The real question is whether or not Romney will have a significant coat-tails effect in the Show-Me state. Polling in the Missouri Senate race seems to be all over the map; however, a big Romney win will help Todd Akin edge out Claire McCaskill in the general election.

Thanks! RebootCongress.NET Makes Top 10 Missouri Political Blogs

Thanks to Nancy McMullen and the folks at for selecting this blog in their list of Missouri's top 10 Political Blogs! There are so many great political blogs in Missouri that to be recognized is a real honor. Coming in 10th, I have my work cut out for me going forward. Thanks again!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hating Breitbart Opens Tomorrow!

The long awaited "Hating Breitbart" opens on Friday in St. Louis at the Wehrenberg Ronnies 20 in south county (map). You can purchase your tickets online.

If you just can't wait until Friday, you can watch a 20 minute preview tonight at 6PM Central time.

#MOSen: $315 Million Tax Credit Windfall Benefits Claire McCaskill's Husband

Cartoon credit: Missouri Record
Joseph Shepard's business empire worth millions of dollars was built on public policies supported by Claire McCaskill that incentivize the construction of low-income housing by offering both state and federal tax credits. I believe that these policies have fostered a poverty-industrial complex that enriches a small elite like Shepard and McCaskill at the expense of tax payers. Below I examine one of Shepard's umbrella companies, Sugar Creek Realty, LLC, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits that have benefited Shepard and the Congressional crony he's married to: Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Joseph Shepard's Role with Sugar Creek Realty, LLC

Joseph Shepard is employed by Sugar Creek Realty, LLC, according to the second page of Claire McCaskill's most recent financial disclosure form. That page reveals that Shepard makes more than $1,000 working for Sugar Creek:
According to what appears to be his LinkedIn profile, Shepard is the "Owner" of Sugar Creek Realty, LLC. McCaskill's disclosure lends some support to that fact. On page 16 of McCaskill's disclosure, we learn that Shepard's stake in Sugar Creek Realty, LLC, is valued between $500,000 and $1,000,000 and that he and McCaskill realize between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in annual rental and interest income from this one asset.

A Look at Sugar Creek Realty, LLC

Sugar Creek's "About Us" page explains what they do. The short version: Sugar Creek helps developers secure matching state and federal tax credits to finance their real estate development projects.

Interestingly, their "Key Personnel" page (pictured at right) does not list Shepard.

That page identifies the company's Chief Operating Officer (Kathleen Rorris), Chief Financial Officer (Stratton Whitaker), President (Chris Hite), General Counsel (Craig Towerman), and others, but oddly omits the company's Chief Executive Officer. Given that Shepard collects a salary and appears to claim to be the owner of the company, it stands to reason that Shepard is the CEO. In fact, identifies Shepard as the Chief Executive Officer of Sugar Creek Realty, LLC.

That's how it goes with Shepard--even seemingly trivial facts are obfuscated.

And that's why I found the "Representative Projects" tab on the Sugar Creek Realty, LLC, website so surprising. It's a convenient interface for looking through a representative list of development projects in both Missouri and Georgia--projects that Sugar Creek has facilitated. Click on a project at the bottom of that page and the number of units and the total tax credits for that project are displayed along with the project's location.

Using the data on the Sugar Creek Realty, LLC, website, I assembled a spreadsheet of the representative 69 Missouri and 10 Georgia projects. These projects represent a combined total of over $315 million of state and federal tax credits for the development of 5,640 low-income housing units. (See: *A Note About the Data below for some caveats about the tax credit data.)

Shouldn't these projects, these assets, be disclosed on McCaskill's financial disclosure?

I compared the Sugar Creek project names to Part IIIB, Non-Publicly Traded Assets and Unearned Income Sources, of Claire McCaskill's latest personal financial disclosure (basically, pages 9 through 17). Column F, "McCaskill PFD?", in my spreadsheet records what I found: none of the 79 representative projects from Sugar Creek Realty, LLC, was listed on McCaskill's financial disclosure though two Sugar Creek projects (Saddlewood Apartments and Woodlen Place Apartments) appeared similar to two assets listed on McCaskill's disclosure (Saddlewood I LP, and Woodlen Place Associates).

Does Sugar Creek Realty, LLC, have an equity stake in any of these projects?

I'm uncertain, but I believe the answer is yes for the following two reasons.

First, Sugar Creek's business is to facilitate development projects with state and federal tax credits. I think that implies that Sugar Creek has an equity stake (possibly through one or more intermediaries) in these projects because the project developers need a buyer for their tax credits. A 2006 article about Shepard's myriad business ventures noted: "developers can sell their tax credits -- but only to buyers who own a share of the development." (See: *A Note About Tax Credits below for more on how tax credits work.) One reason that Sugar Creek might obtain an equity stake in a project would be to trade that project's tax credits in the secondary market. It's possible that Sugar Creek only held an interest for a brief time in order to acquire and trade the tax credits on the secondary market; however, I don't think that's the case.

There's second reason to suspect that Sugar Creek has equity stakes in some or all of these 79 low-income housing projects. As mentioned earlier, Shepard and McCaskill realize between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in annual rental and interest income from Sugar Creek Realty, LLC. According to page 16 of McCaskill's disclosure (reproduced below), they do not receive dividends, capital gains, excepted investment fund, excepted trust, qualified blind trust, or "other" income from Sugar Creek Realty, LLC. I've highlighted those other types of income in blue below.

I suppose it's possible that Sugar Creek's portfolio of properties could be composed of other real estate assets, but wouldn't they supplement that portfolio with the best new projects that they helped get off the ground?

McCaskill's disclosure in conjunction with the Sugar Creek project data implies that Shepard has helped to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal tax credits for the construction of low-income housing while reaping at least a hundred thousand dollars and possibly as much as a million dollars annually from the rent payments and the interest on security deposits collected from low-income tenants. Missouri voters have a decision to make in November: do they elect the poverty profiteer Claire McCaskill or do they elect Todd Akin? I think it's time to curtail policies that have created our centrally-incentivized poverty-industrial complex which mints millionaires with tax credits. It's time for tax payers to tell Shepard and McCaskill: "You didn't build that and I'm finished financing it!"

Related articles
*A Note About the Data

Sugar Creek's website is obviously a marketing tool for the company, so the data on it has not been scrutinized by an accountant. Nonetheless, because the company claims that it is "representative" I think it's safe to assume that it is representative and that it is a subset of their work just as that word implies. In other words, they've done more that $315 million in business, but we don't know how much more.

Some of the data looked odd. For instance:

While it's possible that the 10 low-income units at Lewistown Apartments were rehabbed for $305,000 each, I think that's probably not the case. Ok, I hope that's not the case. There were two instances where project names seemed to have prefixes: Lewis County and CONECT. Because of that and the fact that in both instances the tax credits were identical, I only counted the tax credit once. In other words, the total tax credits for the three projects above in my analysis is $3,050,000 not $9,150,000. It's possible that I missed other double counting issues in this data set.

The website does not provide the start or completion dates for any of the projects or tax credits. That limits my analysis. For what it's worth, Sugar Creek Realty, LLC, was founded in March of 2001; therefore, none of this data is more than 11 years old.

*A Note About Tax Credits

Some background on how tax credits work may be helpful. A dollar of tax credits can be applied to pay one dollar of your tax obligation. Because tax credits are often awarded in hundreds of thousand or even million dollar chunks, businesses awarded tax credits often have more credits than actual taxes, so they want to sell some, maybe even most, of their tax credits. Developers trade their tax credits for less than par value. A company like Sugar Creek might buy a dollar tax credit for only 40 or 50 cents effectively realizing a 50-60% reduction in that dollar of taxes.

However, once tax credits are purchased from the developer, they enter a secondary market where anyone can buy them. So a company like Sugar Creek might buy tax credits from a developer for 50 cents on the dollar and then sell those tax credits to a bank for 75 cents. In that scenario, Sugar Creek is syndicating tax credits and realizes a 50% gain on its 50 cent investment.

The reason that such large gains are possible in tax credit arbitrage is because syndication companies have a captive market--the development projects in which they've invested--while they are able to re-sell that investment to the broader marketplace. In short, the restriction that a tax credit can only be sold to a project investor only applies to the first sale of the tax credit, so the first purchaser realizes an immediate arbitrage advantage.

Finally, tax credits are often awarded over a period of years. For instance, a project awarded $5 million dollars in tax credits might get that in five $1 million dollar chunks over the course of five years. When a syndication company purchases that $5 million dollar tax credit, they assume the time risk of the asset. So a company that buys that $5 million tax credit in the first year for, say, $2 million dollars, will only have $1 million of tax credits in that first year. They'll get the return on that investment in subsequent years--$1 million in tax credits each year for the next four years.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Obamacare Cost Control: Physician Assisted Suicide

Amazing. Just amazing. Watch the first three minutes and you'll want to watch the whole hour.

From the YouTube description:
The Determinators is a chilling story which uncovers the dark underside of the massive healthcare reform bill that, once fully implemented, will significantly threaten the way Americans live...and die. Based on the book "The Battle for America's Soul" by CL Gray, MD. The Determinators feature leading experts in the field of healthcare who have studied the fill and it's impending ramifications. 
The Determinators highlights several of the worst elements of Obamacare that big-government bureaucrats want to keep hidden from the public until it's too late. It's information people need to know before they decide how to vote. 
Tea Party Patriots presents a Ground Floor Video production
Producer - Luke Livingston
Adapted and Directed by Pritchett Cotten

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

#MOSen: Claire McCaskill: "Good News about the Recession is that Emissions are Down!"

From the YouTube description:
Claire McCaskill discusses the recession's "silver lining" with Georgetown University College Democrats on March 28, 2011.
Even the Georgetown University College Democrats laughed at her for saying: "the good news is our emissions are way down because of the recession."

#MOAG: Chris Koster's Pay-to-Play Campaign Approaches $750,000

In late June, Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (R-MO) issued a report which found cronyism in Chris Koster's (D-MO) Attorney General's office:
The Attorney General's office (AGO) retained the right to reject proposals for contingency fee contracts even though state law does not include any provision for doing so once the Office of Administration (OA) has taken over the bid process. The Attorney General also accepted campaign contributions from law firms that submitted proposals. The AGO should not retain the power to reject responses or solicit new responses for contingency fee contracts after it requests the OA to handle the procurement process.
Now, Koster's opponent, Ed Martin (R), is criticizing Koster for taking nearly $750,000 in campaign donations from law firms who have sought contracts with Koster's AG office:
Schweich’s audit caught Koster red-handed accepting over $170,000 in campaign contributions from law firms actively bidding on state contracts – a situation Auditor Schweich definitively called “a conflict of interest.” Now, Koster’s own campaign finance reports and official government documents show he received almost $750,000 in campaign contributions since the 2008 election cycle from law firms that replied to Requests for Proposal (RFP’s). 
During the 2008 election cycle, Koster received more than $260,000 in campaign contributions from firms who later bid on contracts from his office. Since 2008, Koster has received nearly $475,000 in contributions for a total of nearly $750,000. These large donations routinely come from some of the largest law firms in Missouri, including Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, Hershewe Law Firm, Strong, Garner, Bauer PC, and Langdon & Emison – all of which have received payment from the state during Koster’s time in office.
Pay-to-play seems to be entrenched in the upper echelons of Missouri government. Former Missouri AG and current Governor, Jay Nixon (D-MO), awarded a a $1.1 billion dollar contract to Centene after they had contributed over $60,000 to Nixon's campaign.

Monday, October 15, 2012

#MOSen: Rand Paul's RandPAC Blasts Claire McCaskill on Foreign Policy

Sen. Rand Paul's (R-TN) RandPAC has entered the Missouri Senate race with an ad blasting Claire McCaskill for sending US tax dollars to countries opposed to America's interests around the world. Todd Akin is the obvious beneficiary of RandPAC's involvement. Business Insider has more:
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is wading into the nation's most incendiary Senate race this week, with the launch of a new statewide, six-figure ad campaign to help Missouri Republican Todd Akin. 
Business Insider has learned that Paul's political action committee, RANDPAC, will go on air Wednesday with a new ad attacking Akin's opponent, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, for her vote against Paul's amendment to block U.S. aid to Pakistan, Egypt, and Libya.

#MOSen: Why Isn't Webster Design, Inc., Listed on Claire McCaskill's Financial Disclosure?

Note: I posted the Missouri Secretary of State documents for Webster Design, Inc., to Scribd because the links to them below were not working reliably. I've updated the links below to use the Scribd documents instead of the unreliable links to the Missouri SoS website.

The image above is from page 16 of Claire McCaskill's most recent Personal Financial Disclosure which is available on Webster Design, Inc., is not listed on McCaskill's disclosure. Nor could I find Webster Design on any of her prior year disclosure forms.

McCaskill's husband, Joseph Shepard, along with Kenneth M. Vitor and William Obrock were the original three board members of Webster Design. According to, Joseph Shepard is still a shareholder in Webster Design:

If that's the case, then why isn't Webster Design, Inc. listed on Claire McCaskill's disclosure form?

A Brief History of Webster Design, Inc

I took a look at Webster Design's filings with the Secretary of State. Joanna W. Owen is the current registered agent of the company. She is also the registered agent for Crestwood Building Associates, Inc., Missouri Fund 2012 VII LLC, and Missouri Fund 2012 VIII LLC. Webster Design has filed over thirty documents with the state of Missouri dating back to 1987 when the company was founded. Here are some of the highlights from the documents:

  • On 5/26/2009 Webster Design filed a "Statement of Correction" to amend their 2009 annual report. The correction added Damon Femmer of 103 W. Lockwood, Suite 218, as an officer of the company because they were required to add a licensed architect. Femmer had been with the company for a number of years, serving on its board and, at one point, as its president. Since the mailing and principal place of business are located next door in Suite 219, this implies that there's some collaboration between the people in those two suites.
  • On 4/29/2010 the board of directors of Webster Design has been reduced to just one member: Bill Luchini. Vitor is still the registered agent. Femmer is Vice-President. I'll speculate that Luchini purchased a controlling stake in the company by this point.
  • On 2/14/2012 Webster Design filed another "Statement of Correction". This one amends their 2011 annual report to add Damon Femmer as Vice President.
  • On 4/2/2012 Webster Design moved from 103 W. Lockwood to 763 S. New Ballas Rd, Suite 300. They also changed their registered agent from Kenneth Vitor to Joanna W. Owen.

Questions for Claire McCaskill

Earlier this month, I asked: why Isn't Capstone Development Listed on Claire McCaskill's Financial Disclosure? Given Shepard's early and active involvement with Webster Design, Inc. as well as the fact that has identified him as a shareholder, it stands to reason that he has an equity stake in Webster Design, Inc. Why isn't Webster Design, Inc. reported on Claire McCaskill's financial disclosure forms?