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Press Release Fiasco Roils Capitol

February 11, 1999
By: David Grebe
State Capital Bureau
Links: Missouri Republican Party, SJR 21

JEFFERSON CITY - A brief firestorm erupted in the statehouse Thursday after a Republican press release accused Sen. Jim Mathewson, D-Sedalia, of violating the state's open meetings law.

But it was state GOP spokesman Daryl Duwe who ended up getting burned.

A press release Duwe issued accused Mathewson of telling a "news intern," to remove his tape recorder during a hearing.

The hearing was on a bill to limit Hancock Amendment tax refunds to individuals and not businesses. Duwe said this was intended to gut the Hancock tax-limitation amendment.

"One thing is for sure," Duwe said in a release, "they don't want the public knowing about it."

Duwe's release quoted Matthewson as saying, "I may not want this tape recorder here." At least two reporters present interpreted Mathewson's comment as humorous.

Duwe went on claim Mathewson, a veteran Senator, surely knew better. "He's not a spring chicken," Duwe said.

Senate Republican leader Steve Ehlmann, who was at the hearing, supports Mathewson's claim he didn't attempt to interfere with the recording.

The "news" intern turned out to be a Westminister College student working for the Republican Party.

Duwe later issued a press release apologizing to Mathewson for the earlier comments.

Mathewson said the experience taught him a lesson. "I think it's a good lesson for everyone, that when we send an intern ... they probably should have a little training on the rules and how the place works."