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Lt. Gov. Maxwell cries foul over new Blunt campaign advertisement

October 11, 2004
By: Adam Behsudi
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - In a press conference on Monday, Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell said that a recent advertisement from Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Blunt is false.

According to Maxwell, the campaign advertisement gives false charges that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Claire McCaskill, was not active enough in nursing home reform as state auditor.

"As state auditor Claire McCaskill aggressively conducted multiple audits year after year," said Maxwell. "Among nearly 70 recommendations come from five state audits."

Blunt's advertisement says there were only three audits.

"As far as we're concerned there were three audits through the major agencies and divisions that handle nursing homes," said Paul Sloca, spokesperson for the Missouri Republican Party.

The advertisement questions McCaskill's actions as state auditor, stating the audits did not motivate any new penalties for deficient nursing homes.

"Claire McCaskill's leadership on this issue made the difference for increased penalties," Maxwell said.

In a letter to Missouri station managers that urges them not to air the ad, Maxwell states that he led the effort to enact a broad-based nursing home law, an action he said was motivated in part by the audits of Claire McCaskill.

However, the chair of the Senate committee that handled the legislation -- Sen. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph -- said he did not remember the audits as a vital part of the process.

"I would have to say they were part of it," said Sen. Pat Dougherty, D-St. Louis, a member of the committee that reviewed legislation to protect seniors in nursing homes.

"If he (Maxwell) made a statement that was part in parcel in what was the driving force I would take that at face value," Dougherty said.

Dougherty sponsored a Senate bill that would provide stronger provisions for investigating elderly abuse and investigatory powers.

Sloca doubted that the audits had a major effect on any legislation that was passed.

"Three audits is not a lot of information to give lawmakers," said Sloca. "That was a bipartisan bill supported by Republicans and Democrats and Claire McCaskill was nowhere to be found."

Glenn Campbell, spokesman for the McCaskill campaign, credited Maxwell as the "foremost authority" on senior advocacy.

"He saw nursing home reform go through and passed and signed into law, on a bipartisan basis only years later," said Campbell. "(It) recognizes how important that audit was."

Campbell also said that McCaskill was the first state auditor to do performance audits that looked at how the division of aging was monitoring the inspections of nursing homes.