Corruption Charges Fly Back and Forth in City Mayor’s Race
ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The gloves are off in the mayor’s race, as challenger Lewis Reed accuses Mayor Slay of “pay-to-play” politics in awarding $32 million in “no bid” contracts to firms from which Slay received campaign money.
Aldermanic President Reed released a two-inch thick packet outlining his claims. He says 80 percent of the contracts awarded by the Board of Public Service between April 2009 and March 2012 went to Slay’s campaign contributors. Reed noted that BPS President Rich Bradley, who was appointed by Slay, sent out an invitation on his city hall email for people to attend Slay’s 2011 golf tournament fundraiser.
“Tax dollars are being leveraged for political gain,” Reed said.
Mayor Slay himself did not respond to the allegation. His Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford and Director of Operations Eddie Roth met with reporters just minutes after receiving a copy of the allegations.
“His campaign is faltering, and he’s in a free fall, and he starts making crap up,” Rainford said of Reed.
Both Rainford and Roth asserted that there are no “no bid” contracts, and there are too many checks and balances in place for contracts to be awarded based on campaign contributions.
“If there was any funny business like this, everybody in the world would know it,” Roth said, “People don’t know about it because there isn’t any of that kind of funny business.”
Rainford and Roth did admit that the golf tournament fundraising email was improperly sent out by Rich Bradley, on his city-hall email account. “That was a mistake,” Roth said.
Rainford sought to turn the tables on Reed, outlining his own list of allegations. He accused Reed of “self-dealing” on a real estate transaction and failure to report to the state campaign contributions received from individuals who do business with the city.
The real estate deal in question involves the old Castle Ballroom at 2839 Olive, which Rainford says Reed bought and sold for a large profit, before helping the developer who bought it get a tax break. Reed’s campaign says sale was profitable, because it happened during the 2004 market peak; and the tax break was sought by the alderman in that ward, passed unanimously by the board, then signed by Mayor Slay.
During his news conference in the city hall rotunda, Reed also alleged the Slay Adminstration has pressured contractors to not give money to other canddiates.”Some of them in this packet, and some of them not in this packet have been threatened by the Mayor that if you give to this person, or give to that person, then I’m going to have a problem with you, Reed said.”
Reporters asked Reed to name contractors who could prove his claim.
“We certainly here from plenty of them,”Reed said, “I don’t know if any of them would be willing to come forward now.” At that point, Reed’s handler cut the news conference short.
Rainford called that allegation nonsense. “That’s utter nonsense and given the fact that he couldn’t give you a specific is typical Lewis Reed,” Rainford said.