Six weeks into Gov. Nixon’s Mamtek scandal the pieces are still coming together.
Starting on the day the scandal broke – September 6th – and moving forward paints an interesting, and at times frightening, picture of the catastrophic circumstances behind the scenes.
Sunshined emails show that from the 6th to the 22nd of September the Nixon administration offered no help to officials in Moberly.
However, within four hours of the scandal breaking, the dash was on to distance Gov. Nixon from the fallout as a Dept. of Economic Development official – who was formerly a member of Nixon’s public relations team – emailed Nixon’s press secretary Scott Holste with the soon-to-be-used talking points: that despite the $40 million from Moberly, Mamtek had not received any state funds.
But they were incredibly close to doing just that... likely days away.
Mamtek’s CEO Bruce Cole, a very non-Chinese resident of Beverly Hills with $433,000 in unpaid civil judgments and tax liens, was only a few pages of paperwork away from receiving roughly half of the state’s promised $17.6 million in incentives, on top of the $40 million Moberly loan that had already been paid out.
(This is the one instance in this scandal where Jay Nixon got lucky: a few more weeks and this would’ve been potentially career-ending. Instead he can just attempt to push the blame onto the town of Moberly, as he's been doing.)
But Moberly did not find or foster this project, despite what state officials have contended in the press.
No, this endeavor was brought to the state – by former Gov. Holden no less – and pitched from Nixon’s administration to Moberly, along with two other cities. In fact, the state incentives package in question was offered to Mamtek before the project was ever even pitched to Moberly in the first place.
To add insult to injury, it seems that the company’s plan to raise private capital was through their participation in a controversial program that allows EB-5 visas to be “awarded” to foreign investors in American companies. In other words, Mamtek’s plan to raise money for the project was by selling American citizenship to wealthy Chinese families.
One thing is for certain – the people of Moberly are angry about what happened and even angrier over having the blame for a bad deal placed on their shoulders.
They justifiably feel that when the state comes to their city, pitching a factory that comes pre-packaged with millions of dollars in state incentives and asking them to throw in tens of millions more in loans, the due diligence behind the project should have been long-completed by state officials. That was their assumption when they hitched their wagon to this disaster.
Emails show that the Nixon administration did not begin the due diligence research on the Mamtek project until a year after Gov. Nixon, with Holden in tow, rushed to a Moberly community college podium to announce the “blockbuster” deal.
It turned out to be a city-buster deal – busting the bank, the economic recovery, the credit rating, and the hopes of the citizens of Moberly. And the state did nothing to prevent it and less to help.
Jay Nixon, now distancing himself as far from the scandal as possible, has shown that he lacks a “buck stops here” mentality, opting instead for a “buck stops with the guy who got screwed out of it” approach.
And we deserve better.