Who Is Darrell Dean?
In Missouri, the Speaker of the House wields enormous power. No bill or issue comes to a vote without the Speaker’s approval.
Lobbyists use the Speaker’s power skillfully. They funnel to campaign donations to the Representative who considers lobbyists their constituents, not the people who live in their district.
Currently, the lobbyists are betting on Dean Plocher as their best hope for next Speaker. And Plocher is running hard for the position. He refers to himself as “the next Speaker.”
It struck as may strange, then, to learn that Plocher has a fake Facebook account under the presumed name “Darrell Dean." Friends who’ve freinded this fake account tell me it seems to be a private account where Plocher can connect with political cronies, shielding those conversations from the press and public at large.
This struck me as both odd and risky. When people find out a politician has a second, secret identity, people get curious and suspcious. I got suspicious, so I began asking about Plocher. Some of the things I learned:
- Plocher writes and maintains his own Wikipedia page stating as a fact that he will assume the Speakership in 2023
- Plocher doesn’t read or respond to constitutents' emails or letters. Doing so would take too much time away from his pursuit of the Speakership
- Plocher meets only with lobbyists, donors, and others who can satisfy his ambition
- Plocher quietly forced the House to pass the largest tax increase in Missouri history, a gas tax that will hit Missouri consumers beginning in October
- As Floor Leader, Plocher silenced conservative Republicans who interfered with legislation favored by his cronies
A few months ago, a mutual friend said Dean (or Darrell) would be happy to meet with me. I wanted to talk about the gas tax. The meeting never happened, of course. I didn’t offer to make a big campaign contribution.
I realize the members of the House of Representatives gets to pick the Speaker. It’s not up to the people. But the people have a duty to inform the judgment of their Representatives.
Most Republican Representatives trust House leadership. Newly elected Reps tend to have a naive view of their Republican colleagues. They think Republicans are all Ronald Reagan proteges who got into politics to do the right thing and represent the people, by golly.
And that’s true of most freshmen. They go to Jefferson City for the right reasons. But Jefferson City is corruption itself,and the Missouri GOP is a Petri dish of cronyism. Freshmen legislators quickly face a choice: compromise your conservative values and what leadership tells you, or waste a couple of years as a frustrated remnant in a cramped office in the basement of the Capitol.
Those who play the game well will do well. Their campaign funds will fill quickly. They’ll get invited to great parties and weekends at the playgrounds of millionaires and billionaires. Life will be good.
Those who stick to their principles will be harassed, threatened, investigated, and financially starved. They’ll face a well-funded primary opponent who carries the endorsements of Republican luminaries with names voters know and trust.
That’s how the game is played. Dean Plocher played it well. So well, the next Speaker of the House in Missouri will likely be Dean Plocher. Or Darrell Dean.
Unless they’re stopped now.