In next week’s primary I’m endorsing Edward McFowland for Recorder of Deeds, for those voters taking a Democrat Party ballot. Many of you might not recognize the McFowland name, but Edward McFowland has been around politics much of his life. His mom, Daisy McFowland, served as 4th ward alderman 1973-79, 1983-90 (she died in office). In 1977-78, while Daisy McFowland was serving on the Board of Aldermen, 23rd ward committeewoman Sharon Carpenter was the secretary to Board President Paul J Simon.
Carpenter first stepped into the job in 1980, when she was appointed by then-Gov. Joe Teasdale following the death of then-Recorder of Deeds William Schulze. (The state law has been changed to allow the mayor to now fill any vacancy in the office.) Carpenter later won a special election to fill out the term, and has handily won re-election ever since. (St. Louis Public Radio)
Carpenter’s predecessor William C. Schulze died of a brain tumor in March 1980, he was only 33 years old! Like Carpenter, Schulze was appointed to the position by Gov Teasdale. In 1977 Recorder Francis R. Slay, the mayor’s father, resigned so the office was vacant. The next year Schulze was elected to a full term, which Carpenter was appointed to finish.
Thirty-four years later, on Friday July 11, 2014 the Circuit Attorney Public Information Officer Lauren Trager released the following statement at noon:
Upon receiving Mr. McFowland’s first letter, we conducted an initial review of the applicable law. We determined that there was a legal basis for referring this matter to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and we did so on June 27, 2014. As you know, the SLMPD is the primary investigative body for the City of St. Louis. We are awaiting the results of that investigation, and we expect them shortly. At that point in time, we are prepared to take action, should the investigation substantiate Mr. McFowland’s allegations. For more information, please contact the SLMPD.
Just over four hours later Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said:
The Circuit Attorney’s Office has received a letter indicating that Ms. Sharon Quigley Carpenter intends to resign from office, effective Monday morning. The specific allegation of nepotism provides no legal basis for criminal prosecution. Ms. Carpenter admitted to violating a provision of the Missouri Constitution. The sole remedy for a violation of that provision is removal from office during the term when the specific conduct occurred. The investigation into the allegations remains open, until such time as her resignation becomes effective.
Edward McFowland’s diligence and research uncovered this wrong doing by a person in office for over three decades. He’d sent many emails about other things he found, how other information he sought through Sunshine Law requests hadn’t been provided. Just before Carpenter resigned I emailed McFowland to ask to meet face to face. I was impressed by his skills at seeking out problems, but also his positive ideas such as having a U.S. Passport office in city hall. The day before Carpenter resigned McFowland emailed the idea:
As Recorder, I will pursue designation of one or more Recorder of Deeds employees as U.S. Passport Acceptance Agents.
22 CFR 51.22 (Passport agents and passport acceptance agents) permits the Department of State to authorize “Any other person specifically designated by the Department” to serve as agents.