Soon-to-be Missouri House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, has donated $200,000 over the weekend to the state House Republican Campaign Committee -- in what appears to be a move to bolster his standing in party decision-making.
But Diehl’s dollars made up less than a quarter of the amount that the campaign committee collected on Saturday from dozens of donors. The tally, reported Monday to the Missouri Ethics Commission, amounted to at least $832,000 in large donations of more than $5,000 apiece.
The money will likely be used to help House Republicans protect and defend their veto-proof edge, which now stands at 110 of the chamber's 163 members. The campaign committee can dole out the money to favored candidates -- or not.
The committee's huge pot of campaign money could send a signal to House members tempted to break ranks during the September veto session. That's when Republican leaders are expected to make a pitch to overturn many of Gov. Jay Nixon's record-setting vetoes of bills approved by the General Assembly during the five-month session that ended in May.
Diehl's huge donation also makes him among the largest Republican donors in the state, and likely will give him significant influence over how party money is spent when it comes to state House contests. Diehl won't officially become speaker until next January, when he succeeds departing Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.
The 42 donors who gave over $5,000 apiece to the House committee included several major corporations, including Ameren, Anheuser-Busch (which gave $15,000 apiece) and Republic (which owns the controversial Bridgeton and West Lake landfills). Republic contributed $25,000 to the House committee.
The Missouri Health Care Association also donated $15,000 to the campaign committee.
The second largest donor, after Diehl, was a fellow House member: Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, who could well become Diehl’s successor in a couple years.
Most of the other large donors were other Republican House members or candidates, including Rep. Anne Zerr of St. Charles, who gave $50,000; Rep. Sue Allen of Chesterfield, $26,000; and former House Speaker Steve Tilley of Perryville (now a prominent lobbyist), $25,000.