A Missouri lobbyist whose son was expelled from college following allegations of sexual misconduct is using Facebook ads featuring President Donald Trump to promote a bill that would change the way such cases are handled.
Lobbyist Richard McIntosh created a “dark money” nonprofit to push a bill through the Missouri state legislature that would allow college students accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX to appeal to a state commission where his wife is the presiding and managing commissioner.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on the creation of Kingdom Principles, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that is not legally required to disclose its donors, incorporated by McIntosh last year. The nonprofit began advocating for changes to Missouri Title IX rules under the name “Missouri Campus Due Process Coalition.” Kingdom Principles has hired 29 lobbyists to push the bill, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.
The group spent $7,509 on Facebook ads collecting signatures framed as supporting proposed Trump administration reforms to Title IX rules that dictate how colleges and universities handle investigations of sexual misconduct allegations. The ads direct people to sign on in support of the state-level push to change Missouri’s laws. Each of the ads prominently features Trump’s image, framing support of the Missouri measure as support of “Trump’s due process protections” at the federal level.
The Missouri proposal, which has hit a wall in the Missouri Senate, includes some similarities to federal Title IX reforms proposed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in November 2018. For example, both would grant accused students the right to cross-examine accusers and both parties would be able to appeal decisions.
The state-level bill is particularly controversial because it sends appeals to the Administrative Hearing Commission, on which McIntosh’s wife, Audrey Hanson McIntosh, serves. McIntosh has said his wife could recuse herself from cases related to his work. Then there’s the fact that another member of the commission is also married to a major backer of the bill.
Though it’s unclear who is funding Kingdom Principles, the group has confirmed one substantial funder: David Steward, a former member of the University of Missouri’s governing body and the billionaire founder and chairman of World Wide Technology, for which McIntosh has been a registered lobbyist.
Shortly after the 2016 election, Steward and McIntosh attended a meeting with the then-president elect about filling positions in the Trump administration at Trump Tower in New York City.
While Steward is a longtime GOP donor, giving $100,000 to pro-Jeb Bush super PAC Right to Rise in 2015 and continuing to give to Republicans into the 2020 cycle, McIntosh overwhelmingly gives to Democrats and even maxed out donations to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary.
McIntosh is no stranger to playing both sides of the political field for his own advantage. He previously attracted controversy over ethics questions raised by him renting out a room to a Republican Missouri senator who had accepted political donations from companies that could benefit from policies he supported and was backed by another dark money group funded by secret donors.