Today (October 15, 2012), the print edition of the Springfield News-Leader has a top of the fold story, byline Josh Nelson, with the headline: Conflict of interest alleged. The on-line headline is different: Kander attacks Schoeller's past connection with Nixa license office Opponent alleges Schoeller may have violated conflict-of-interest laws
The article is a recap of this story from the Bus Garage, October 3, 2012: Shane and his wife had a fee office but "we didn't ask for it":
A major point in both Nelson's article and the Bus article is the patronage aspect of the fee offices. As Nelson writes,
Prior to 2009, only nine license office contracts were awarded with a competitive bid. The rest of the 183 offices were awarded by governors to politically connected allies in the form of no-bid contracts.
In 2005, Gov. Matt Blunt gave the contract for the Nixa license office to the Schoeller Group.
Shane Schoeller was the chief administrative aide for Blunt when Blunt was secretary of state.
On August 1, 2006, Schoeller talked to KY3 News political reporter David Catanese about the fee offices: http://ky3.blogspot.com/
License Fee Office Reform - This may be a touchy topic for Schoeller because his wife operates a fee office in Nixa. He said he does not yet have a position on Rep. Mark Wright's plan to change the way the offices are awarded and run. "I haven't taken a position, I'd have to see the details but so much has been mischaracterized about these license offices. Unfortunately it has become an issue, but for me it is already out there. My wife has one office in Nixa, but we didn't ask for it. We were approached about running it and I encouraged my wife to do it. People rarely ask me about it, most aren't interested in it."
And Schoeller knew that in 2006 when he talked to Catanese and he knows that now.
Schoeller, except for one brief stint with SIFE, has worked for Kit Bond, Roy Blunt, John Ashcroft, Matt Blunt, and Rod Jetton. The Nixa office was given to Schoeller's LLC as a political favor. Schoeller should have given up the office after he was elected state representative.
Another 'spin' on this story is Schoeller's assertion that the fee offices do not collect money directly from the state. "Schoeller campaign officials have said that because the offices do not receive money directly from the state, the statute cited by Kander does not apply."
When you and I go to the fee office and buy plates, we write the check out to the "Department of Revenue". Not one check to the "Department of Revenue" and one check to the fee office operator. The state, using our money, pays the fee office operator for the performing the service of selling license plates.
Schoeller seems to be spliting hairs here, trying to make the best of a bad situation. However, Kander correctly notes the law prohibits lawmakers or spouses from “for any” consideration or service.
From Kander's news release:
The Schoeller Group L.L.C., which was founded by Representative Schoeller and is now owned by his wife, Mendie Giles Schoeller, was awarded the Nixa Contract Office by Governor Matt Blunt – Schoeller’s former boss – without a competitive bidding process in 2005. Representative Schoeller ran for and won a seat in the Missouri General Assembly in 2006, entering office on January 3, 2007.
State law prohibits members of the Missouri General Assembly or their spouses from performing any service for the state that pays $1,500 a year or more unless it is part of a publicly bid contract and the legislator or their spouse was the lowest bidder. This prohibition also applies to businesses where the member or spouse own more than ten percent of the company.
October 14, 2003: Shane Schoeller files Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State’s office to start The Schoeller Group, L.L.C.
March 17, 2005: Department of Revenue informs Mendie Schoeller that she has been tentatively selected as the Contract Agent for the Nixa Fee Office.
April 12, 2005: Mendie Schoeller submits business plan for operation of Nixa Fee Office.
April 13, 2005: The Schoeller Group L.L.C.’s registered agent is changed from Shane Schoeller to Mendie Schoeller. In The Schoeller Group’s bid to keep the office in 2010, Mendie Schoeller wrote “In April 2005, sole ownership was transferred to Mendie Giles Schoeller…” No public record exists suggesting the Schoellers have separated or divorced, making this distinction meaningless as a practical matter.
January 3, 2007: Shane Schoeller is sworn in as a State Representative, making section 105.456.2 applicable to both him and his spouse, Mendie Schoeller. As of this date, because they received the Nixa Fee Office without the benefit of a competitive bid, it became illegal for Shane Schoeller, his spouse, or their LLC to continue to operate the office.
January 3, 2007 – January 6, 2010: The Schoeller Group L.L.C. operates the Nixa Contract Office in violation of section 105.456.2. In this time period, the Nixa Office processed approximately 184,298 transactions worth $612,101 in processing fees, which exceeds the $1,500 per year allowed by section 105.456.2.
January 7, 2010: Department of Revenue announces Alternative Opportunities, Inc. won the competitive bid for the Nixa office. The Schoeller Group was the only other bidder for the office.