No, I don’t mean the food thingy, I mean the person, as in Ron Calzone.
Ron Calzone is a citizen, a mere mortal citizen. Well, a regular citizen with an incredible energy level. He raises horses and cattle and has a small manufacturing business. And then there is his side line. In his “spare” time Ron goes to Jefferson City to talk to legislators. Ron talks to them from a Constitutional viewpoint. He opposes things like eminent domain, and about anything that gives government more control over people lives or their property. He talks to legislators about having good firearms laws, that protect ownership and their owners. And he is very good at it. He is part of a group in Missouri called Missouri First. Ron is often in Jefferson City at the Capitol wearing down the leather on his shoes. Now not every citizen can get off work to go to Jefferson City to testify before a committee when the bills they are most interested in either seeing go through or stopped dead are to be heard. In those cases Missouri First has come up with something very ingenious, called Liberty Tools. People that are subscribed to their mailing list will be sent a notice when a bill of interest is about to be heard, and if you can’t go, you can fill out your witness statement online, MoFirst will print it off and take it to the hearing FOR YOU. Then your Representatives and Senators can get online and see which of their constituents weighed in on it. Either for or against, doesn’t matter, the choice you made, your comments will be there in the liberty tools section. Even if your vote and comment go the opposite of what Missouri First is recommending, it will be there. Pretty nifty huh? I heard from a very reliable source who was in a hearing for a Missouri Firearms Freedom act bill that Ron showed with a stack of witness forms about 18 inches or so high from people in Missouri who were in favor of it. That is a LOT of input.
So what’s the problem? Sounds like a stand up guy, right? I mean he takes time off from his own business, farm and family to go to Jefferson City and do what groups are always urging their members to do, get involved, go talk to legislators, send emails, write letters, make phone calls. He represents those that can’t be there but want their voice heard with piles of witness forms at hearings. Good stuff for citizens right? What could go wrong?
Well, he is good at being heard. And that has resulted in angering some politicians. Let’s look at a couple things.
When Sen. Kevin Engler thought he was a shoe in for position of the Senate’s President pro tem.
In 2010, along with multitude of Tea Party and Patriot group members, I also quite vocally opposed the election of Senator Engler, who was the majority floor leader, to the position of the Senate’s president pro tem. For the first time in decades, the Senate declined to make the majority floor leader their next president pro tem.
Right, Engler didn’t get it, and he was livid.
Now let’s uncover just a couple more skeletons. This one named Ron Richards. Ron was Floor Majority leader in the house at one time. That time would be 2013 and what was at stake was a fabulous bill called the Second Amendment Protection act. Now Ronnie has proudly proclaimed his pro Second Amendment status. He demonstrated this by running away from this bill screaming like a little girl. Actually I’ve seen some girls with bigger, never mind. Anyway, apparently Ron was upset that the bill would prevent newspapers from being able to publish the names of gun owners, you know, like they have in other states. But he promised he would sponsor an even better bill and get it passed. What can you say, he’s a RINO in Missouri. It’s two years later, and still not done. Then there was that time back in 2010 when Ron fought a bill that then Speaker of the house Ron Richards wanted, later the Missouri Supreme court struck it down, so guess Mr. Calzone was correct after all.
Then just recently, Rep. John Diehl was up to be Speaker of the House. Missouri First took the position that he would not be a good speaker, and set his legislation contact list to calling their elected Representatives to ask that they pick someone else other than a “bad Diehl”. The people did the contacting but the House still elected him speaker. Though they did get rid of him after he was caught in a big sex scandal. Oh well.
So what does all this have to do with the price of Israeli coffee in America?
Well this is where it gets really interesting.
A little more background. The Governor of Missouri is Jay Nixon, anti-gun. He’s the one that did the best barry impersonation “The police acted stupidly” when the Police officer shot thug Michael Brown. Jay promised swift justice for Michael. Actually, I think justice had probably already been done, but that was Jay’s first response. His second was to prevent the National guard from stopping the rioting after he illegally called them in before the riot started. So that’s Jay.
Governor Jay is the one who appointed the six members of the Missouri ethics commission. I’m sure they are all up to Jay’s demanding “standards”. Chuckle.
From the MoFirst website:
MEC says about their mission: “The MEC serves the public interest by promoting and maintaining transparency, accountability, and compliance with campaign finance, lobbying, and conflict of interest laws.”The Ethics Commission claims they have no responsibility to consider constitutional arguments that might otherwise be presented in a defense against complaints.While it’s true that MEC has no authority to declare a statute unconstitutional like a real court of law would, they do have a responsibility to support the Constitution, so they should actually at least be considering the constitutional implications of various interpretations of statutes relating to a complaint. In other words, if there are two possible ways to interpret a statute – one is constitutional and the other is not – they should feel obligated to choose the constitutional approach. They do not feel thus constrained, however, and that does not bode well for our free speech rights.
Ready for the juicy stuff?
At the September 3, 2015, hearing before the Missouri Ethics Commission, a witness called by the Commission’s own attorney revealed during sworn testimony a very interesting and very telling fact. The testimony was that Representative Kevin Engler and Senator Ron Richard had talked to the Missouri Society of Governmental Consultants (MSGC), asking them if they had any interest in my status as a lobbyist. After that, MSGC filed a complaint against me with the Ethics Commission.
Only natural persons are allowed to file with the Ethics (guffaw) commission. And within five days they were to have told Ron who his accusers were. So SEVENTY-FOUR DAYS later the Missouri Ethics (yes, I am having trouble typing that with a straight face) commission told Mr. Calzone who had filed the complaint against him. And it wasn’t a person. In fact the lawyer that drew up the complaint made it clear that the filing entity wasn’t a person.
What is the fallout? Ron has been accused of being a lobbyist. That he hasn’t registered and paid the $10 fee, and hasn’t filled out the necessary paperwork. So that results in a thousand dollar fine. If he persists, he could face jail time.
Ready for the punch line? Ron isn’t a lobbyist. He is a citizen, working with other citizens and with other freedom minded groups. He is paid NO money for going to Jefferson City, and he buys the legislators no gifts, no meals. If he’s a lobbyist? He stinks at it.
That’s what makes this so ugly to me. This is an attempt to keep mere citizens from suiting up and showing up to speak to legislators. At one time this was something I did, and not long ago, I was one of two people tapped to be the citizens showing up to talk to legislators on behalf of a group of combined Second Amendment groups. I could have been in Ron’s boots. This is an attempt to stifle free speech and shut out influence of mere citizens from bothering the elected officials. That and some ugly political payback.
At a time when more than ever citizens need to be involved in the political process in an effort to protect our rights this is a very bad thing. If other states should begin to consider such actions? Citizens need to have access to their elected officials, whether it’s showing up themselves, or if they can’t, filling out a online form to be presented at a hearing, they need to be involved. We all need to be suiting up and showing up in whatever capacity we can.
Am I a Calzone? I hope so.