JEFFERSON CITY - Republicans say the lieutenant governor's new bag should help their chances to win the office in 2000.
Lt. Gov. Roger Wilson announced Tuesday that he accepted a new part-time job, aside from his duties to the state, with a St. Louis investment advisory firm. The Democrat, who has been lieutenant governor for six years, will work for the firm from his Columbia home.
One GOP spokesman said Wednesday the development bodes well for the Republicans in 2000. "It's going to be hard to expect Missouri voters to reelect him," said Daryl Duwe, spokesman for the Missouri Republican Party. "I would assume this development would encourage people to think about running, because this obviously weakens his position considerably." But thus far, no Republican has announced intentions to run for the office.
The GOP is arguing that if Wilson doesn't have enough to do, he should "get creative" trying to find ways to serve the state of Missouri. Wilson responded by saying he's done more than anyone else in the past 20 years to expand the responsibilities of the position, despite the fact he has enough discretionary time to fit in the new job.
Wilson's position with Rockwood Capital Advisors will pay $45,000 per year.
The state currently pays $68,188 per year to the occupant of the lieutenant governor position. "That's a very handsome salary, and I'm very appreciative of it," Wilson said. "I try to deliver more than that in value." He added that his agreement with Rockwood makes his job there subservient to the duties of lieutenant governor. "It was a personal decision. This is something that helps my family."
Duwe said that getting paid $65,000 per year of taxpayer money ought to demand full-time attention. "He ought to spend that time looking for better ways to serve the state of Missouri," he said. Duwe said he has not heard any names mentioned for possible Republican candidates for the position in 2000, but he expects that to be determined in the next couple of months.
Wilson said that during the legislative session, he works about 70 to 80 hours per week in his official capacity. Rockwood understands that more of his work for the firm will be during nonsession months, Wilson said. His announcement came about three weeks before the start of the 1999 legislative session, which begins Jan. 6.
There is a precedent for lieutenant governors who work part-time jobs outside of their official duties. Current Gov. Mel Carnahan and former U.S. Sen. Tom Eagleton, both Democrats, continued private law practice when they each held the position.
Wilson, while state senator, sponsored a law passed in 1992 that increased the responsibilities of the lieutenant governorship. The law added more work with economic development, early childhood development and issues related to senior citizens.
Rockwood's agreement with Wilson prohibits him from being involved with investment management of any state public funds. Wilson said there should be no conflict because he can "compartmentalize" his time. "If I had a problem with that, do you think I would have taken the position?"
Bill Phelps, a Republican lieutenant governor from 1973 to 1981, first campaigned for making the position full-time in 1972. The campaign earned him the nickname "Full-Time" Phelps.