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Politically Speaking: GOP consultant Gregg Keller on the fight over politically active nonprofits

Gregg Keller, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Republican consultant Gregg Keller

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Gregg Keller for the second time.

Keller is a St. Louis-based, Republican consultant who runs his own firm, Atlas Strategy Group. He’s worked for a number of Missouri’s prominent GOP officials, including former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent.

Recently, Keller has emerged as a critic of efforts to require politically active nonprofits to reveal their donors. Keller started the Missouri Century Foundation, a 501(c)(4) that’s pushed conservative policies on labor and higher education issues. For instance, Keller’s group prompted the legislation for the right-to-work law, which bars unions and employers from requiring workers to paid dues.

Discussion over politically active nonprofits has become more pronounced after Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign staffers started A New Missouri, which is aimed at pushing the governor’s agenda. Even though Greitens criticized his GOP rivals during the 2016 for using “secretive Super PACs” to attack him, he’s been unapologetic about A New Missouri not revealing its donors — or the attacks the nonprofit has launched on fellow Republican lawmakers.

Here's what Keller had to say:

  • While Keller worked for one of Greitens’ opponents during last GOP primary, he said he agrees with the governor’s stance against disclosing 501(c)(4) donors. “I’m very glad that Gov. Greitens has been standing and taking the right stance on this of late — which again, is standing up for Missourians’ constitutional rights,” he said.
  • Keller is hoping Greitens calls a special session aimed at invalidating a St. Louis ordinance that stops landlords and employers from discriminating against women who are pregnant, use birth control or have had an abortion. The Archdiocese of St. Louis is suing the city, contending the ordinance adds abortion rights supporters to a protected class, while discriminating those who are against abortions.
  • He warned that Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill could benefit in her 2018 re-election bid if a divisive Republican primary produces a flawed nominee. “I think that if we go through a bruising, nasty Republican primary and then we nominate someone like a Todd Akin who says or does something incredibly stupid like Todd Akin does, then I think she obviously has a chance of winning in that environment,” he said.
  • Still, Keller said that McCaskill may be in trouble regardless of who emerges as the GOP nominee — especially because President Donald Trump won Missouri by such a huge margin last year.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Gregg Keller on Twitter: @RGreggKeller

Music: “Smooth” by Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.