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Spence provides new details about his role in bank's delay in repaying federal aid

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 1, 2012 - Kirkwood businessman Dave Spence, a Republican candidate for governor, can’t seem to shake the continued focus on his old post on the board of Reliance Bancshares Inc., especially now that he acknowledges that he voted in favor of the bank’s decision in February 2011 to delay paying back $40 million in federal bailout money.

Spence’s confirmation of that vote, in an interview with the Associated Press, is raising questions because of his earlier statements last fall to the Beacon that he had left the board a month later, in part, because he was upset over that vote. Spence didn’t say at the time that he had been among those casting the vote.

As the Beacon reported last fall:

"Spence resigned from the holding company and the board last March and says he did so, in part, because he objected to Reliance's decision not to make the $2.2 million payment to TARP."

Spence campaign spokesman Jared Craighead says now that Spence stands by that earlier statement of why he left the board and denied that he has changed his story. Rather, Craighead says that Spence simply is providing more details because he now has them.

Craighead noted that Spence had said in the earlier interview with the Beacon that he "could not recall the details" behind the bank board’s decision to miss the initial $2 million repayment.

Within the last month, Craighead said, Spence sought out information from Reliance and learned that he had been part of a unanimous vote by the board in favor of delaying the repayment.

“It was a unanimous decision, based on the recommendation of the bank regulators, who said they did not have enough capital,” Craighead said.

He added that Spence had never said that he didn’t participate in the vote, only that he couldn’t recall the details. Now, he can.

“Dave’s been very consistent throughout,” Craighead said.

Start of update: That's not how the state Democratic Party sees it.

"This guy now has a serious credibility problem," said state Democratic Party spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki. "First Dave Spence should explain to Missourians why he opposed repaying his bank's bailout money to the taxpayers, and then he should explain why he can't tell the truth about it." End update.

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.