Proposition B Campaign Supporters Want Money Back

Martha Throebeck on Friday, July 19, 2002

from the lies-damned-lies-and-commercials dept.

As the result of what some are calling "the worst political advertising campaign in the history of political advertising campaigns," numerous supporters of Proposition B are now demanding refunds of the money they donated.

"The TV ads produced by the group 'Time for Missouri' are not only misleading, but actually provide ammunition against the ballot proposal," said the owner of Bob & Bubba's Contracting, Inc., a company that invested $20,000 in support of the transportation tax increase but has since pulled out of the campaign. "What were they smoking when they came up with these ads? Whatever it was, I want some."

Television sets across the state have been bombarded with commercials claiming that the passage of Proposition B would "secure funding for the Missouri State Highway Patrol." The revenue generated by the proposed fuel and sales taxes increases, however, would be earmarked for highway improvements, not law enforcement.

"This is absurd," said a naysayer on this reporter's rolodex who is always willing to speak out against any tax increase. "We have potholes, one-lane bridges, rough pavement, and intersections that were obviously designed by drunken engineers. And yet supporters of the ballot measure completely ignore those problems while maintaining an obsession with highway patrolmen."

Another person we interviewed said that he intended to vote in favor of Prop. B, but has now changed his mind after watching the commercials. "I don't want my tax money going to help pay for 100 more cops that are only going to harass me, while at the same time our roads keep crumbling. A construction worker replacing a dangerous curve or bridge can increase highway safety far more than some patrolmen..."

One group in favor of the proposition, "The Association Of Contractors That Stand To Make A Killing Off Additional Tax Revenue For Transportation And Saving The Children", has raised nearly $1.1 million in campaign contributions, although 20% of that money came from sources that now want their donations back.

"If I had known my money would go to some outfit that knows absolutely nothing about public relations and political campaigns, I would have saved it for myself and paid for my own TV commercials," said Darnell Runfola, the president of the Orange Barrel Construction Co. "Missourians want better roads, not more cops. Missourians also don't like being lied to. How hard is that to understand?"

Melvin Boshoff, the chairman of The Association Of Contractors, defended his group's political strategy. "Our ads say that Prop. B will provide funding for 'up to 100' more state patrolmen. That's a true statement. Even if no additional cops are hired, the phrase 'up to 100' will still be satisfied because zero is less than 100. The proposition will help support anywhere from zero to 100 new safety officers. How hard is that to understand?"

At the risk of sounding biased, this reporter has no choice but to respond with, "Bite me!"