Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Jo Mannies

Political Reporter

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.  She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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State Rep. Courtney Curtis says policymakers should have been making developing north St. Louis County a priority from the beginning.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:50 p.m. — Missouri state Rep. Courtney Curtis is blaming two thefts and bank errors for campaign-finance problems that prompted the Missouri Ethics Commission to fine him more than $114,000.

Curtis, a Democrat from Berkeley, says he is appealing the commission’s allegations, which were issued Friday, that he violated various campaign finance laws and improperly used some campaign money for personal expenses.

Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, July 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Sen. Andrew Koenig to the program.

Koenig is a Manchester Republican and the main sponsor of abortion legislation that’s being considered in the Missouri legislature’s current (though interrupted) special session. Senators are expected to return on Monday.

Susannah Lohr

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has raised slightly more than $100,000 since April 1 for his official campaign committee, which has taken a back seat in recent months.

Greitens' latest report, filed Monday with the state Ethics Commission, shows that he spent about $127,000 in campaign money during the same period.

The governor has spent far more in money raised by his nonprofit group, A New Missouri, which does not disclose its donors or spending. Greitens' senior advisor Austin Chambers said the nonprofit is paying at least $500,000 for the pro-Greitens TV ad campaign that began last week.

Jeffrey Jensen, President Donald Trump's nominee to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District.
Provided by Husch Blackwell

President Donald Trump on Friday nominated St. Louis lawyer Jeffrey B. Jensen to be the next U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. 

The top regional prosecutor’s post, once held by Richard Callahan, has been vacant since the Trump administration fired most of the nation’s U.S. attorneys in March.  All nominations must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks in front of the Capitol during a rally in support of the Noranda bill on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
File photo | Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

There was a sense of urgency when Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens called the first special session on May 18, aimed primarily at reopening an aluminum-smelting operation that had been southeast Missouri’s largest employer.

But in the weeks since Republicans gave the new governor what he wanted, there’s been no communication between smelting-plant officials and the state agency tasked with approving lower utility rates for such projects. However, leaders in the area are pinning their job-creation hopes on the other issue in that special session — a new steel mill that could employ up to 200 people.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., April 2017
Provided | Office of Sen. Claire McCaskill

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill still doesn’t know who she’ll be up against in the 2018 midterm elections. She’s ready for the fight, however, having banked a little more than $5.1 million.

That’s almost twice the size of her campaign fund in July 2011, which was the last time she was preparing for a re-election contest.

Jay Ashcroft speaks at the Drury Inn in Brentwood.
File photo | Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is responding to angry voters throughout the state after he said June 30 that he’d partially comply with a data request from a White House panel investigating voter fraud.

His reasoning, as explained Thursday: He wants fair elections.

Joshua Peters, July 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Joshua Peters.

The St. Louis Democrat represents Missouri’s 76th House District, which takes in a portion of north St. Louis City. He was first elected to the House in a 2013 special election before being re-elected in 2014 and 2016.

Police officers from several St. Louis area departments salute Officer Blake Snyder's funeral procession as it arrives at St. Louis Family Church in Chesterfield on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens fought back tears Thursday as he explained why it was important for him to sign a measure creating a system to swiftly notify the public when an on-duty police officer is wounded.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters after the 2017 adjourned. Greitens didn't have the smoothest relationship with legislators — including Republicans that control both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri residents and businesses may see a small tax cut in the coming months due to the state bringing in a little more income than expected during the fiscal year that ended Friday.

But there’s nothing official, as Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration said Wednesday it’s still reviewing numbers released by the state budget office.

Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies on the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast.

Griesheimer has served as Franklin County’s top elected official since 2011. Before that, the Republican served for 18 years in the Missouri General Assembly.

President Harry S. Truman standing in an open car, speaking into microphones in 1948, Washington, DC. President Truman had just returned from a campaign trip.
Abbie Rowe | National Archives and Records Administration

For 118 years, Missouri has been represented in the U.S. Capitol’s esteemed Statuary Hall by two statues of slavery opponents from the 1800s: Francis Preston Blair Jr., and Thomas Hart Benton (the politician, not the painter.)

That’s likely to change, according to U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, who issued a rare joint news release a few days ago to declare, in effect, that they’re wild about Harry S. Truman and optimistic his statue will soon bump Blair’s.

U.S. Rep Ann Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin, raised $804,000 from Jan. 1 to March 31.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin, has upended Missouri’s 2018 expected contest for the U.S. Senate by announcing Monday that she won’t challenge Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

Wagner instead plans to seek re-election for the House seat she has held since 2013.

She had been expected to announce her Senate candidacy in the next few weeks.  A number of Republicans and Democrats already had been privately maneuvering to run for her 2nd District seat, once she declared her Senate bid.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Just hours before Missouri’s new fiscal year begins, Gov. Eric Greitens on Friday announced that he was trimming more than $250 million in budgeted state spending, concerned that the state’s income would not cover all of legislators’ allocations.

Most of the trims, called “withholds,” are temporary and could be restored if the state’s finances improve. They largely affect dozens of programs in the state’s departments of health, social services and higher education.  For example, Greitens is withholding $60 million of the state’s share of Medicaid spending but predicts the money likely won’t be needed to match the federal portion of the Medicaid spending.

Jumira Moore, 8, watches as her mother, Timira Saunders, fills out a ballot at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Secretary of State’s office will comply with a White House commission’s request for voter information — but only the details allowed under state law.

Missouri will provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with voters’ names, addresses, voting sites and elections they voted in, said Maura Browning, communications director for Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. But the state will not give the commission any Missouri voter’s Social Security number, political-party affiliation or identify how they voted, Browning said.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri appeals court helped labor groups Tuesday, giving them a backup plan in their attempt to block the new right-to-work law that’ll take effect Aug. 28.

The court ruled that the state must restore the original ballot language for initiative petitions that seek a constitutional amendment to make sure Missouri can’t have any right-to-work laws. Such laws bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues or fees.

Colorful photos hang on the walls at HCI Alternatives in Collinsville. The marijuana dispensary is set up like a typical doctor's office.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A small building nestled off Interstate 70 in Collinsville looks like a typical doctor’s office, until you get inside and look up close at the colorful artwork on the walls. They’re portraits of marijuana plants.

At this dispensary, about 12 miles east of the Missouri border, patients and the medical staff have lively conversations about the various medical marijuana products available, from brownies and blueberry-flavored candies to transdermal patches.

Stephen Webber, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for a candid episode of the Politically Speaking podcast.

Webber is a former state representative from Columbia who was elected last year as party chairman. He took on that role after narrowly losing a state Senate race to Republican Caleb Rowden.

Missouri union members at an anti-right to work rally in St. Charles on Oct. 4, 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:15 a.m. June 26 with comment from Ashcroft — Missouri’s top labor group says the union effort to go to the ballot box next year to block “right to work’’ remains on course, despite a judge’s ruling Thursday that changes the ballot language.

The state AFL-CIO already has collected “tens of thousands of signatures,’’ said spokeswoman Laura Swinford. But those signatures were on petitions that contained the original summary ballot language that had been approved by Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.

Sens. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, and Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, talk with St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies at Picasso's coffeehouse in St. Charles. June 21, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast team of Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies were on the road again Wednesday, this time to Picasso’s coffeehouse in the historic downtown of St. Charles. The two welcomed state Sens. Bob Onder and Bill Eigel, Republicans who represent much of St. Charles County.

Onder, of Lake St. Louis, and Eigel, of Weldon Spring, focused on a variety issues and fielded a number of tough questions from the audience. Each praised Gov. Eric Greitens for calling a special legislative session, now underway, to deal with the abortion issue. Both are outspoken opponents of abortion.

Alderwoman Megan Green, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Megan Ellyia Green joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for a second time on the Politically Speaking podcast.

Green has represented the city’s 15th Ward, which is just south of Tower Grove Park, since her special-election victory in 2014. She first was elected as an independent, rankling some Democrats, but now is a bona fide Democrat and holds state and national party posts.

Republican Josh Hawley won the endorsement of the Missouri Farm Bureau for attorney general.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri is the only state in the U.S. using consumer-protection laws to pursue a website that’s accused of advertising illegal sexual activity such as human trafficking, Attorney General Josh Hawley says.

Hawley’s office says it has filed a lawsuit Thursday in state court in St. Charles as a way to try to force Backpage.com to turn over documents that Hawley contends may be helping traffickers evade prosecution in the state and elsewhere. It’s the second time Hawley has sought court intervention in recent weeks.

Republican Sen. Bob Onder, of Lake St. Louis.
File photo | Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

Updated at 7:45 p.m. with changes to Onder's bill — Missouri’s GOP legislative majority is virtually unanimous in its opposition to abortion, but the divisions within their ranks were laid bare by a number of competing abortion regulation bills filed in the second special session of the year.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks with reporters after touring Our Lady's Inn, a St. Louis pregnancy center for women experiencing homelessness, on June 8, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When it goes into its second special session Monday, the Missouri General Assembly will focus on a frequent — and arguably, favorite — target: local control.

On issues ranging from gun rights to anti-discrimination regulations, Republican leaders have made it clear that they believe there should be a consistent law across Missouri. That’s why since 2007, they’ve approved bills to bar communities from enacting stricter gun laws, overturned Kansas City’s higher minimum wage (there’s an action pending against St. Louis’ higher wage, too), and tossed out Columbia’s plastic bag ban.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

As promised, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City — for the second time — to target organizations and local governments that support abortion rights.

The session begins next Monday. “I'm pro-life, and I believe that we need to defend life and promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri,” the governor said in his announcement on Facebook.

Gregg Keller, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Gregg Keller for the second time.

Keller is a St. Louis-based, Republican consultant who runs his own firm, Atlas Strategy Group. He’s worked for a number of Missouri’s prominent GOP officials, including former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent.

Public schools and other institutions in Missouri that receive state money likely won’t see any last-minute cuts before the fiscal year ends June 30, budget chief Dan Haug said Friday.

That’s even with the state’s income collections running slightly behind estimates used to craft the current budget.

State Rep. Bruce Franks takes part in a recording of Politically Speaking at Yaquis on Cherokee.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies shook things up, recording the show with state Rep. Bruce Franks on Wednesday in front of a live audience at Yaquis on Cherokee in St. Louis.

Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, was elected to the Missouri House last year to represent the 78th District, which stretches from Carr Square to Dutchtown in the eastern part of the city.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signs a bill on Tues., May 30, 2017, banning project labor agreements before workers at Automation Systems, a firm in Earth City.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens appears to be reinforcing his anti-union image, inviting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — who also has built a reputation for taking on unions — to a rally Tuesday, where Greitens signed a bill outlawing a longstanding practice.

The bill bans cities and counties from using project labor agreements, which have been in use in the St. Louis area for decades. PLAs require all subcontractors to pay union wages, and often bar work stoppages over labor disagreements. Already, there are PLA bans on state projects.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 30 with news of appeal — Missouri's attorney general will appeal a federal court ruling that struck down parts of the state's limits on campaign finance.

In a statement released Tuesday, Republican Josh Hawley said it was his duty as attorney general to defend the laws and constitution of Missouri. A federal judge earlier this month kept in place donation limits, but threw out a ban on certain committee-to-committee transfers.

Seventy percent of voters approved the amendment in November.

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