Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Nodler: Goodman Voted Against Jobs on EaglePicher

"That line is Goodman propaganda . . ."
Joplin State Senator Gary Nodler said there was never a specific appropriation for EaglePicher this past legislative session and accused his 7th District opponent Sen. Jack Goodman of opposing job creation when he voted against the bill containing funds for the company.
"There was no appropriation for EaglePicher. There's nothing in the bill that specified that. There was a $50 million dollar allocation to the Department of Economic Development. And to date, no one has gotten it," Nodler said, in response to a story published by The Notebook Tuesday night.
"That line is the Goodman propaganda line, a Goodman campaign theme. But it's untrue," Nodler added.
On Tuesday night, former Roy Blunt chief of staff Gregg Hartley endorsed Nodler for Congress. The Notebook reported that Hartley, a lobbyist, has represented EaglePicher and that Nodler helped land $25 million dollars for the company during this past legislative session.
But Nodler, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the language in the specific legislation of House Bill 22 did not single out EaglePicher, and that it was state officials in the Department of Economic Development who recommended the money be loaned to two high-tech battery plants, one of them being EaglePicher.
The actual wording in the bill, never mentions EaglePicher, but is clearly targeted for "for not more than two new manufacturing company locations or existing manufacturing company expansions that use existing battery technologies."
Nodler said he never had a conversation with Hartley or any EaglePicher employee about the $25 million dollar appropriation. He said the first he knew Hartley had a relationship with Eagle Picher was this past weekend when the two met for dinner. "I don't monitor Cassidy's reporting or clients. I didn't know he had a relationship with EaglePicher until the other night," Nodler said.
Between 2007 and 2008, campaign finance documents show that EaglePicher donated $1,200 to Nodler.
During the interview Wednesday, Nodler said he doubted EaglePicher could even qualify for the money if it was released.
"Last time I checked Eagle Picher has not met the job creation target necessary to qualify for the loan," Nodler said.
But in his May 11th Capitol report, Nodler touted the $25 million dollar appropriation for "an exciting project" that could create hundreds of new jobs.
"EaglePicher Inc., a battery manufacturer, has a research and development facility in Joplin and is expected to receive a $25 million loan, which will essentially become a grant when the company meets certain commitments such as creating at least 500 jobs in the area and spending $150 million on the project. This expansion is an opportunity to expand high-tech jobs and strengthen the economy in our area," Nodler wrote.
Gov. Jay Nixon's administration said the money has not been released because EaglePicher has not yet met all the qualifiers to attain the forgivable loan.
Several capitol reporters have compared the EaglePicher funding to the federal earmarking process, where oversight and transparency is often lacking. On Wednesday, Nodler defended his vote for the legislation and stressed the $25 million dollars was a just a loan. "It was not a grant. It was not a gift. It was not corporate welfare. The state would recover the full amount," Nodler said.
He also took aim at his rival Goodman for voting against the legislation. "One Senator from our district did vote against 400 to 600 jobs. He was the one opposed to job creation in Southwest Missouri," Nodler said, referring to Goodman. "There's absolutely no justification for opposing it."
In a statement provided to The Notebook, Goodman said he stood by his vote against the spending bill that tapped into federal stimulus dollars. "It had tens of millions in pork barrel spending that we cannot afford with the current state shortfall and federal deficit. I will consistently fight to stop such bills in Congress," said Goodman.
"I believe lower taxes create jobs, not greater government spending. That is why I opposed President Obama’s so-called stimulus bill and will oppose any additional stimulus packages," Goodman added.
Nodler and Goodman are battling five other Republicans for the 7th District Congressional GOP nomination.

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