There seems to be one issue after another in regards to Tom Carnahan’s wind farms. Most recently his company, Wind Capital, has been fighting allegations that they are dodging taxes (or at least trying to) at their DeKalb County operation. Not long before that mess they became embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with the Osage Nation in Oklahoma over the mineral rights to the land their wind farms operate on.
Now, here in Missouri, a much more public conflict has come into play: a ballot proposal that would “transfer $360 million from Missouri’s electric ratepayers... to renewable energy suppliers...” is being written by Tom Carnahan’s sister, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.
Wind Capital, as one of the state’s largest green energy suppliers, would be in line for a ton of money under this proposal.
It’s what most political observers would call, at a minimum, a “conflict of interest”.
Naturally, the Carnahan family sees no problem whatsoever.
Now a firestorm of sorts is brewing, with State Rep. Jay Barnes leading the charge.
“No rational Missourian,” Barnes said, “believes Secretary Carnahan doesn’t have a conflict in writing ballot language for a measure that would secure hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed sales for a business owned by her brother.”
Although no apparent provision exists for transferring the ballot writing, Barnes believes the secretary could adopt language offered by a “neutral and credible third-party.”
Earlier calls for Robin Carnahan to step aside were dismissed outright by not just the Carnahan clan, but also the attorney general’s office. However, there’s a lot more at play here.
Most obvious of all, they’re throwing fuel on the already-growing fire that’s slowly surrounding Wind Capital, and they should plainly see that. (Maybe “fanning the flames” would be more apropos?)
With scandals already piling up, why throw another in the mix when it’s such an easy scandal to avoid? It’s as simple as Robin Carnahan saying “I recuse myself” and letting someone else write the two or three lines that for that proposal.
Is that really worth fighting tooth and nail for?
If there’s truly no benefit to Robin Carnahan drafting the ballot language then why is it so important that they protect her ability to draft the ballot language?
They can argue that Robin Carnahan has no real conflict of interest and the opposition can argue the point, but I can argue that anyone else would have less of a personal conflict than Robin Carnahan and no one can argue the point. And therein lies the problem.
The Columbia News-Tribune, coming out against Robin Carnahan’s involvement in drafting the language, pointed to exactly that issue in their biting editorial that concludes:
To eliminate such scrutiny and controversy, Secretary Carnahan’s wisest move is to place as much distance as possible between her office and writing the ballot language for the renewable energy proposal.
This should be a no-brainer. But the Carnahans are about power. Political power, wind power or business power, it doesn’t matter.
And that’s why Robin Carnahan won’t recuse herself from what would otherwise be a non-issue… at least not without a hell of a fight.