Former Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, who resigned less than a week ago, says his new title is “director of business development’’ at a Clayton-based lobbying firm, Gate Way Group.
Dempsey, a Republican from St. Charles, said in an interview that he began work this week. His resignation from the state Senate was effective last Friday.
Gate Way’s clients include wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield, who has been at odds with Dempsey on some issues, most notably “right to work,” which would curb union clout in the workplace.
Dempsey voted against the “right to work’’ measure – backed by Sinquefield -- that passed during this year’s legislative session. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat. It’s unclear if the measure will be brought up during the September veto session.
Gate Way managing partner David Jackson said that the firm has not been involved in any lobbying on behalf of "right to work."
Meanwhile, Dempsey emphasized that he won’t lobby Missouri elected officials in his new post. He expects instead to deal with state governments in other states, such as Florida. “We’re still working on that,’’ Dempsey said.
He does expect to work with some of Gate Way’s healthcare clients. Its list of current and former clients include the American Academy of Dermatology Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Center for Diagnostic Imaging.
Gate Way’s client list also includes Grow Missouri, a conservative group with ties to Sinquefield, and A Safer Missouri, the campaign group for the 2012 ballot-measure that successfully sought local control of St. Louis’ police department. Sinquefield had been a major donor.
Dempsey, 48, said that Gate Way was among several firms who he had considered as an employer after he decided to resign from the Senate before his term ended at the end of 2016.
Dempsey repeated his explanation of a couple weeks ago when he suddenly decided to leave the Senate. He said he needed a better paying job after the closure of the Columns Banquet Center where he had been the general manager. Dempsey and his family had been in the restaurant business for several decades.
Dempsey said he and his wife, Molly, had spent some time discussing the matter and what was best for their family, which includes three children. The best route, he said, was to seek a government-relations post with a private firm. Gate Way, he added, was the best choice.
Jackson with Gate Way Group said in a statement that the firm was pleased that Dempsey had come aboard. “Tom has a track record for negotiating high-profile public policy issues as a top leader in the House and Senate," Jackson said. "This, combined with his deep industry knowledge and strategic insight, makes Tom uniquely qualified to lead the Gate Way Group as a multi-state and federal government affairs firm.”
Jackson said that Dempsey "will oversee Gate Way Group’s transition into a multi-state and federal government affairs firm." He reaffirmed that Dempsey will not be lobbying members of the Missouri General Assembly.