Realtors bemoan Rex’s latest big check to pass ‘fair tax’
Friday, January 27, 2012 11:45 am

• It’s not often that the state Realtors’ association, with their thousands of members and pair of lobbyists in Jefferson City, fret about being the underdog.

But now that retired investor and free-market evangelist Rex Sinquefield has given another giant campaign check to his bid to rewrite the state tax code, the real estate agents are selling a “David versus Goliath” narrative.

On Thursday, Sinquefield deposited $1.2 million into his “Let Voters Decide” political committee, whose latest push is rescinding the state’s income tax and replacing it with higher sales taxes.

The group has already spent much of an earlier $1.3 million check from Sinquefield on lawyers, campaign consultants and a professional petition drive firm charged with making sure the tax proposal has enough signatures to get on the ballot.

(For a man who made his fortune as a pioneer of the index fund, some of the expenditures by his political committe are head scratchers. Other than the $1.3 million donated by Sinquefield and a $10,000 check from an admirer in the financial world, Let Voters Decide raised only $1,465 from other donors, all in small increments, in the last quarter. However, during that same period, the committe paid $16,000 to a St. Louis fundraising firm.)

Realtors don’t like the “fair tax” proposal because it would potentially mean a higher tax on sales transactions — including the purchase of a home.

Before Sinquefield’s latest donation even became public, a spokesman for the Realtor’s group, Missourians for Fair Taxation, blasted the opposition’s wealthy benefactor.

“It’s clear that Let Voters Decide’s answer is to throw more and more money behind its awful proposal, but they cannot sell it to working class Missourians,” said the Realtor’s spokesman, Scott Charton. “They have a billionaire benefactor with an agenda, but even a billionaire gets just one vote.”

However, the last election cycle, Charton was far from critical of the tactics of Sinquefield, who has never said he is a billionaire.

In 2010, Charton’s Columbia, Mo. public relations firm was paid more than $60,000 by Sinquefield’s committee, which at the time was working on a measure effecting local earning taxes.

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