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Government, Politics & Issues

Consultants Under Fire In County Executive Contest

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County’s contest for county executive has taken many unusual turns — with the latest engulfing consultants for the two battling Democrats: Richard Callow and Jane Dueker.

Callow has been advising incumbent Charlie Dooley, while Dueker has been assisting Councilman Steve Stenger.

Callow and Dueker are among the top consultants in the state; their clientele includes corporations as well as candidates. And it’s their work with businesses that appears to be the reason both are under fire.

Stenger contended on KMOX this week that Dooley hasn’t done as much as he should to aid the residents living near the Bridgeton landfill because Callow is also a consultant for Republic Services Inc., whose subsidiaries own the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills. These two neighboring properties have come under fire because of odor (Bridgeton) and radioactive waste (West Lake).

State and federal environmental authorities have overseen the remediation efforts at both landfills. St. Louis County has not been involved.

Meanwhile, the community-activist group MORE (Missouri Organization for Reform and Empowerment) has sent out mailers that jab Stenger because of his campaign’s association with Dueker.

Dueker is a lawyer with Stinson Leonard Street, and her clients have included Peabody Energy. She was involved in the high-profile legal case to knock out MORE’s proposed ballot initiative that would have prevented city tax breaks for Peabody. She also was involved in the successful legislative effort that should block such initiatives in the future.

Jeff Ordower, MORE’s director, said the anti-Dueker mailers were sent to about 1,700 likely county voters. He said the aim was to highlight “Stenger’s inner circle’’ of advisors, such as Dueker, who MORE believes advocate policies that hurt average people.

Ordower emphasized that MORE is not taking a stand on the candidate, and notes that it has its concerns about Dooley as well (such as his hefty donations from wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield).

In any case, Dueker and Callow don’t seem too concerned about the jabs.

“They’re coming after me because I was successful representing my client,’’ said Dueker, adding that the issues had nothing to do with the county executive contest.

Callow observed that it was the nature of a consultant's business at times to generate controversy. And it's not always unwelcome. He added with a chuckle: “It does not hurt my brand, or Dueker’s, to be talked about or attacked.”

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