Hollywood actors and wealthy West Coast parents embroiled in college admission scandals, step aside. The Midwest is here to represent.
The latest episode of Parenting of the Rich and Connected takes place in the Missouri Legislature. You might think us simpletons stuck in flyover country, but our power players don’t mess with bribes and lame Photoshop to “help” their kids.
Black Hawk-level helicopter dad and lobbyist Richard McIntosh took it to another level after St. Louis’ Washington University expelled his son last year. He was kicked out after a Title IX investigation found him responsible for sexual misconduct severe enough to warrant expulsion.
Here’s some context on how often a rape allegation leads to expulsion. According to the university’s Clery statistics, 122 rapes were reported on campus from 2013 to 2017. Since 2013, only seven students have been expelled for Title IX violations, according to Lori White, vice chancellor for student affairs.
McIntosh’s son is in rare company indeed.
But back to the real star of our story. After power dad McIntosh’s son was kicked out, he didn’t try to grease hands at the university. That’s so amateur hour. Instead, he began lobbying to change the law for every college and university in the state! He started a dark money group called Kingdom Principles (an ironic flourish for you, Hollywood), dedicated to gutting Title IX protections for those who report sexual misconduct and assault. He got St. Louis billionaire David Steward to help fund his mission. In another made-for-TV-twist, Steward is on the board of trustees for Wash U. The dark money group bought polling and ad time, and hired 29 lobbyists, some of whom passionately framed the agenda as a way to protect the civil liberties of black men.
Nary a word was said about who else the law might help. The Kansas City Star helpfully dug up the hidden personal connection.
There’s another plot twist.
Not only did McIntosh want this law to go into effect immediately, he pushed for it to allow accused students to appeal the results of Title IX hearings to the state Administrative Hearing Commission. Guess who is the presiding and managing commissioner of that commission? McIntosh’s wife, Audrey Hanson McIntosh. His son could appeal his expulsion to his mom’s commission.
A move like that takes more cojones than delivering bags of cash to a lacrosse coach.
The state’s colleges were against these changes, which they said would discourage students from reporting rape and sexual misconduct on campus. Plus, the original language of the legislation seemed more than a bit vindictive. If that legislation had passed, students who were cleared on appeal by the commission (again, a commission led by an expelled student’s mother) could sue their former universities, the campus staff and their accusers for damages. It allowed lawyers to cross-examine sexual assault survivors about their drinking and past sexual history.
Making the law retroactive was an especially nice touch. Those conditions were later stripped.
The fact that paid guns claimed that the law was designed to protect black men -- not the son of a wealthy white lobbyist -- is just Missouri being extra. During the debate, a Democratic legislator challenged fellow lawmakers, who claimed to be awfully concerned about protecting the due process of the accused, to guarantee lawyers for students who couldn’t afford them.
Missouri Republicans essentially said “hell to the naw” on that one.
The Senate version of the bill ran into a filibuster last week from Democrats, and the legislative session is winding down in a few weeks. McIntosh and his army of lobbyists will need to shift into overdrive to make good for his son.
In hindsight, maybe buying the Harvard fencing coach’s house has a better return on investment. Harvard is investigating a possible conflict of interest in that case. Missouri Republicans pushing McIntosh’s pet project seem far less concerned about conflicts of interest.
In some circles, McIntosh may win father of the year.