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US Attorneys use federal facilities to lobby against prop B

March 23, 1999
By: Clayton Bellamy
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1891

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's two US Attorneys are using the Justice Department's name and facilities to lobby against the state's concealed weapons ballot issue.

Using official department letterhead, the attorneys, Edward Dowd and Stephen Hill, urged sheriffs and police chiefs across the state to rally resistance against Proposition B, which is on the ballot this April.

Dowd's office is operating an 800 number which people can call to obtain anti-prop B campaigning materials.

Calls to the 800 number, 1-800-214-2690, are answered with "US Attorneys Office."

The materials, which include pamphlets and lawn signs, are provided by the Safe Schools and Workplaces Campaign Committee, an organization headed by Robin Carnahan.

Carnahan is the daughter of Governor Mel Carnahan and one of the most outspoken gun control advocates in the state.

The Department of Justice approved the effort, said department spokesperson, Myron Marlin.

"It is not uncommon for US attorneys to raise concerns when the situation calls for it," he said. The use of government resources does not violate department policy, he added.

A spokesperson for Dowd explained why the attorney is lobbying against the ballot issue.

"He's concerned about the safety of citizens he's sworn to protect," Jan Dlits said.

Prop-B-proponents Rep. Wayne Crump, D-Potosi, and Rep. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, recently raised controversy when they used official letterhead to poll lobbyists about Prop. B. Crump said the mailing was rigorously examined and found to have not been supported by state funds.

"If the attorneys have broken the law, I hope someone takes them to task," he said. "I think they should be tested like I was."

The attorneys' actions do not violate the Hatch Act, according to Karen Delham, spokesperson of the Special Counsel Office in Washington.

The Special Counsel Office is an independent governmental organization appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1989. The Office protects federal employees who blow the whistle on illegalities in the government, in addition to enforcing the Hatch Act.

The Hatch Act prohibits federal agencies from getting involoved in partisan political races. Activity in issue-centered elections are not restricted by the act, she said.

Dowd handles Eastern Missouri and Hill, Western Missouri.

The 3rd person who signed the letter was Ronald Scaggs, President of Missouri Poilce Chiefs Association.