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Brenda Talent to oversee Show-Me Institute

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 2, 2010 - Brenda Talent, a prominent tax lawyer and the wife of former Sen. Jim Talent, is taking on a new job next week as the new executive director of the St. Louis-based Show-Me Institute.

The conservative research and educational institute advocates free-market approaches, particularly in fiscal matters.

In its announcement, board chairman Crosby Kemper III said that Talent "was selected after a lengthy and comprehensive search to find the best and most qualified candidate to help lead the institute in its efforts to promote public policies that are driven by free-market principles and a desire to advance liberty.

"Brenda Talent has a wide breadth of experience in law and public policy, particularly tax policy and education," Kemper said. "She is the ideal person to lead the Show-Me Institute forward, and we are thrilled that she is joining our team as executive director. In fact, she's been on our radar for quite some time, and we're delighted that the timing has worked out."

Said Talent in a statement: "I have been following the work of the Show-Me Institute since its inception nearly five years ago. I am excited to work with the institute's talented staff and policy experts as we all continue to promote ideas of smaller government, lower taxes, and individual liberty for Missourians. Our goal is for Missouri to show other states how liberty leads to prosperity."

The institute noted that "Talent’s legal practice focused on cases and issues relating to Missouri state and local taxes," one of the group's "main areas of interest."

Brenda Talent's biography is quite diverse. Her father was a career officer in the Air Force, and she served as an officer in the Army's Judge Advocate General Corps before marrying Jim Talent.

She also has been a sought-after political speaker in her own right, and has been described by her husband as one of his key political advisers during his two-decade political career, which ended in 2006 with his defeat by now-Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

According to Brenda Talent's bio, as released by the institute:

"Talent served as counsel to the law firm Bryan Cave. She has argued cases before the Missouri Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Missouri, and has litigated cases in the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission, the U.S. Tax Court, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. As part of her tax practice, Talent defended clients against the Internal Revenue Service and the Missouri Department of Revenue.

"Talent first joined the law firm of Bryan Cave in Saint Louis in 1985, where she developed specialties in tax litigation and Missouri state tax law. She became a partner at Bryan Cave in 1992. During this period, Talent won the David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Award from the Missouri Bar Foundation, and advocated taxpayer issues before the Missouri General Assembly."

On a political level, Brenda Talent was elected in 1988 to the Parkway School Board, serving a stint as president of the board in 1990. She and Jim Talent are the parents of three children.

She served as a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps from January 1982 until October 1985. "For much of that time, she was a commissioner on the Army Court of Military Review, the highest appellate court in the Army," her biography reads. "Also during that period, she attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., graduating with an LL.M. in tax law in 1985. She graduated from the University of Florida, which she attended on an ROTC scholarship, and the University of Chicago Law School."

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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