Kansas City lawyer Steve Bough is a former Jackson County Democratic chair with deep ties to party leaders — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, to name just two.
He’s also known as a Democrat who gets along with Republicans.
So it was taken for granted that when Gov. Jay Nixon nominated him last summer to a seat on the Jackson County Sports Authority that Bough would be easily confirmed when the state Senate reconvened in January.
But on Thursday came word that Bough’s nomination was sunk. The Senate panel that handles appointments would not sign off.
All Bough could do was utter a political face-saver: “I enjoyed my service on the Sports Authority and think I did a good job for the taxpayers.”
Turns out that what sunk Bough wasn’t just opposition from Republicans eager to take a chunk out of Nixon’s backside. Also working against him was a fellow Democrat — state Sen. Paul LeVota, the new Independence lawmaker.
Numerous legislators indicated publicly, and privately, that it was LeVota’s below-the-surface opposition that torpedoed Bough’s new job overseeing the Truman Sports Complex. An obvious question is why? Why would LeVota be part of an effort to deny a fellow Democrat and embarrass his own governor?
That’s where this tale turns silly, stupid and even ugly.
First, know this about the state Senate: A single Missouri senator can go a long way toward mucking up a nomination.
Then, figure in Paul LeVota’s own quirks. Never known to walk away from a fight, LeVota and his brother, Phil, had a years-long clash with Sanders over control of the Jackson County Democratic Committee. That battle was petty, vindictive and unseemly in its own way, although the sides have since made peace.
When he was the House Democratic leader after Nixon first took office in 2009, LeVota is said to have grown increasingly frustrated that Nixon didn’t involve him and his fellow Democrats more in decision-making.
Now that LeVota is in the Senate, he’s in a prime position to seek payback by blocking Nixon appointees. So killing the Bough nomination was a no-brainer, Democrats said.
LeVota didn’t confess to wanting to nix the nomination when he talked to The Star’s Jason Hancock. But he did express skepticism about “someone who is very heavily political being appointed by politicians to do a job that should be non-partisan.”
Too bad LeVota didn’t consider the job Bough had done in his five months on the Sports Authority. Brought in to bring change to what some saw as a rubber-stamp panel, Bough pushed an ethics measure and a three-year maintenance schedule to bring order to taxpayer-financed stadium repairs.
But that didn’t matter. What did was political payback.
To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or email email@example.com.