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Dooley campaign treasurer denies any campaign meeting with county government staffers

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 21, 2009 - St. Louis lawyer John Temporiti, the campaign treasurer for County Executive Charlie Dooley, is adamant today that there never was -- planned or held -- a meeting of county department heads to discuss any campaign matters, such as contributions.

"There's a real clear distinction between operations and the campaign," Temporiti said.

For one thing, Temporiti said he wasn't present for any such rumored meeting, and that such a session could not have been held without him.

"This is like 'fantasy land,' " Temporiti added, saying that he was going public only because of the public accusations sent out this afternoon by Dooley's only GOP rival at the moment, lawyer Bill Corrigan. Dooley is seeking re-election next year.

Corrigan cited an item last week by Post-Dispatch gossip columnist Deb Peterson alleging such a meeting on a "rare Saturday" in the law offices of Gallop, Johnson and Neuman, where Temporiti has quarters. (Peterson notes that she did not specify which Saturday, but some political readers assumed she meant last Saturday.) The item said that the department chiefs were to provide lists of businesses with county contracts.

Corrigan called on Dooley to "answer these allegations immediately and state publicly his role in the meeting, who attended and what transpired...."

Replied Temporiti: "It's typical for the Corrigan campaign to criticize something that never occurred. I hope in the coming campaign that we will discuss substantive issues, not fantasy."

Dooley spokesman Mac Scott said there also was no meeting Saturday, or in recent weeks, of department heads to discuss government matters.

Scott said that "a semi-regular meeting of cabinet heads'' is slated for Oct. 3, off county property, to discuss "strategic planning'' of county government business. He emphasized that the session was not set up to discuss Dooley's campaign or politics, but that the off-site location was selected in case someone did bring up campaign-related matters anyway.

Scott added that, contrary to rumors, "There is no request to county department heads to turn in lists (of companies) for contributions."

Aside from the ethical issues, there's also the practical matter that "there's no need" for such lists, Scott said.

Dooley's campaign operation long has had its own list of contributors, he explained.

Dooley has been in office since 2003, winning re-election in 2004 and 2006. (He first obtained the office when then-veteran County Executive George R. "Buzz" Westfall died in October 2003.

Left unsaid: Since Temporiti worked for years as a top governmental or campaign aide to Dooley, he probably has better knowledge than the department heads of which firms do business with the county and which ones are campaign donors.

UPDATE -- Monday evening, Corrigan's campaign offered a reply, basing its conclusions on reports in the Post-Dispatch. Dooley's staff dispute some of the outlet's initial reports.

Here's Corrigan's statement, in full:

"We think it’s important to taxpayers to question the Dooley campaign when a newspaper reports that cash for contracts activities are occurring. First Dooley’s people confirmed the meeting did occur, and then they denied it. The conflicting information from the Dooley camp about the Post-Dispatch report only raises more questions. It would be irresponsible for us not to inquire about this type of questionable behavior out of Dooley’s administration, and to make light of this demonstrates serious disrespect for the taxpayers who want ethics in government and a transparent, accountable County administration."

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.