Thursday, September 25, 2008

Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman Rejects Financing Ethanol Plant Citing "Conflict of Interest"

After a couple of years of time given to remove conflicts of interest, Show Me Ethanol LLC had its application for a loan rejected by the Missouri State Treasurers Office after failure to comply. The loan requested was for between $2 to $6 million through the linked deposit program called Big Missouri.

The purpose of the Big Missouri program is to lend funds to small businesses at low interest rates to give them a good shot at growth.

Treasurer Sarah Steelman's spokeswoman said that they weren't able to figure out what type of involvement a company called Central Missouri Biofuels had in the matter.

The conlict of interest exists because state Rep. John Quinn and the brother of Gov. Matt Blunt are investors in Show Me Ethanol, and it couldn't be determined what type of role they had in Central Missouri Biofuels.

While Quinn was whining about the decision, it makes sense to keep oneself out of these types of situations where they could come back and bite you.

As for Steelman, she has always had a zero-tolerance policy towards these types of situations.

When the process began, lawmakers or relatives weren't allowed to benefit from assistance from the state. This year there was a change in policy so that they could invest up to 2% in companies that receive grants or loans from the state.

Even though they are allowed to legally do it, it's still unethical. The mischieve that could come from granting taxpayers money to dubious ethanol projects is too great to allow lawmakers or their relatives to financially benefit from the public loans.

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