Ferguson, MO – Lee Smith, former president and business manager for IBEW Local 2352, has announced his candidacy in next year’s election for Missouri state representative in the 73rd District, a seat currently held by turncoat Democrat and “right-to-work” proponent Courtney Curtis (D-Ferguson).
Smith was one of three worker-friendly candidates in last August’s primary election who tried to unseat Curtis, citing Curtis’ decision to file his own version of “right-to-work” legislation in 2015 and siding with Republican legislators in 2016 – he was the only Democrat to do so – on similar legislation designed to cripple unions by allowing freeloading workers to get all the benefits of union representation without paying dues.
Curtis claimed at the time that he voted for “right-to-work” (RTW) as a protest against the building trades for what he falsely claimed was a lack of inclusion, totally ignoring the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council’s highly successful Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, which has striven since 2014 to bring more minority and female workers into the trades.
As a reward for his treachery, Curtis received a $50,000 campaign donation from the notoriously anti-union Humpreys’ family – $25,000 from TAMKO Building Products CEO David Humphreys, and $25,000 from his sister, Sara Atkins.
CURTIS FINED FOR ETHICS VIOLATIONS
Curtis was recently fined $114,000 by the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) for flagrantly violating state campaign finance laws.
According to the MEC, Curtis maintained at least 11 bank accounts for his re-election fund, accepted cash donations in excess of state limits, deposited campaign contributions into a personal bank account, used campaign funds to pay for items that were already covered by the state, and numerous other violations that suggest he may have been using his campaign funds as a personal piggy bank.
TIME FOR CHANGE
“Courtney Curtis has sold out the interests of the working men and women of Missouri by siding with those millionaires who seek to lower wages,” Smith said in announcing his candidacy. “He received $50,000 from one such millionaire in political payment for his voting with Republicans for the so-called RTW law.”
Smith also cited the MEC fine, stating: “We cannot tolerate such actions. The time is now for change!”
IN IT TO WIN IT
Smith has a long history in the Labor Movement. A charter member of Local 2352, he served as chief steward at Westinghouse Electric Corp., a member of the Local 2352 executive board, chairman of the executive board, vice president, president and business manager in the 1970s and 1980s, and was on the front lines fighting the RTW ballot initiative in 1978.
“The Republican House and Senate majorities in Jefferson City have ignored the real challenges we face and instead have waged war on our voting rights and working people,” Smith said. “As state representative, I will focus on the real issues such as raising the minimum wage, defending Medicaid, women’s health issues, funding our schools, rebuilding infrastructure, social and economic justice, ethics reform, helping seniors and veterans and protecting the rights of workers.”
Smith, the son of a southern sharecropper, is a father and grandfather and a deacon and Sunday school superintendent in his church.
The 73rd House District encompasses St. Louis Lambert International Airport and all or parts of Berkeley, Ferguson, Bridgeton and St. Ann.
“We can unite and take back the 73rd District for the people,” Smith said. “We are in it to win it!”
For more information on Smith’s campaign, visit voteleesmith.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: In the Aug. 2016 Democratic primary, #2 vote getter Lee Smith lost to Curtis by only 60 votes. However, two other candidates received a total of 1,204 votes, showing voter dissatisfaction with Curtis. Had the Democrats been smart enough to only field one candidate, turncoat Curtis would have lost. Let’s hope “smarts” prevail next year and Smith is the only Democratic candidate this time to take on Curtis. Potential candidates please note: Splitting the Democratic vote is a sure victory for Curtis!)