Ozark Billy Ain’t Doin’ Much Legislatin’

Have you ever heard of the Legislative Effectiveness Project? Yeah, me neither.

Here is how its creators, political scientists Craig Volden of the University of Virginia and Alan E. Wiseman of Vanderbilt University, describe it:

The Legislative Effectiveness Project (LEP) is a joint research project that seeks to understand which members of the United States Congress are the most effective at lawmaking. We use a precise research methodology to calculate a Legislative Effectiveness Score for each member of the House of Representatives, where the average score in each two-year Congress is equal to 1.

Given the title of this blog post, I think you know where I’m going. From the Springfield News-Leader:

Rep. Billy Long was not a very effective legislator in the last Congress, according to a new analysis examining lawmakers’ legislative success.

Among Missouri’s nine House members, Long, R-Springfield, earned the lowest score from the Legislative Effectiveness Project, a new website developed by two political scientists at Vanderbilt University and University of Virginia.

Long scored “well below expectations,” said Craig Volden, one of the website’s creators and a professor at the University of Virginia.

Mr. Volden got one thing wrong. For some of us, Long’s legislative prowess is not “well below expectations.” It is pretty much what we expected. Although I would have to say he is performing somewhat better than I imagined he would. I thought he would be the least effective legislator in Congress. Turns out that among his 245 Republican colleagues, he comes in at 212. So I suppose that’s something he can be proud of. There are 33 Republicans who do less legislatin’ than he does.

He outscores many more, though, when it comes to spending campaign cash on vittles. As Randy Turner has been tracking,

Federal Election Commission (FEC) documents indicate the Billy Long For Congress campaign committee has spent nearly $100,000 for meals since the beginning of 2013, including more than $20,000 in the last three months.

That’s a heapin’ helpin’ of hospitality right there. You could fill Jethro Bodine’s belly on that kind of tab.

As an example, Turner reported that,

On August 27, the Long campaign reported two meals at the Capitol Hill Club, one for $116.12 and the other for $215.10, and a third meal at Nicolas Ristarante in Springfield for $1,062.41, for a total of $1,393.63.

nicolas in springfieldIn case you, like me, can’t afford to eat at Nicola’s Ristarante in Springfield and therefore have never been there, fortunately you can go online and check out its fancy dining room and allow your taste buds to dream of sampling the “Sea Bass with saffron sauce” for a mere $25 or the “8 oz. beef tenderloin with gorgonzola cheese sauce or green peppercorn sauce,” a steal at only $29.

This is not the time to once again remind everyone how depressed wages are in Billy Long’s district, but now is the time to ask out loud, as Deirdre Shesgreen did,

Where is Rep. Billy Long? His campaign won’t say

Shesgreen is the Washington correspondent for Gannett’s Ohio and Missouri papers, including the Springfield News-Leader. Her story began:

Springfield-area residents who want to talk to Rep. Billy Long in advance of Election Day might have a hard time finding the Republican congressman.

highland springsWell, only those residents who can’t dine at fine places like Nicola’s Ristarante or the Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield (where Long’s campaign spent $5,573.50 on August 13th for a “campaign event”) will have a hard time finding Ozark Billy. Those who do frequent such places get plenty of access to the former auctioneer. (For the record, Long was invited to a local event here in Joplin to discuss pending legislation related to the Postal Service. No one from his local office bothered to show up, even though the Postal Service is needlessly closing a plant in Springfield next year that will cost the local economy around 300 good-paying jobs.)

As for the rest of his constituents, Deirdre Shesgreen reported that Long’s campaign manager, no doubt a beneficiary of at least a few of those campaign-financed meals, said that Ozark Billy has many good reasons for not showing up to events—like last week’s League of Women Voters forum—in which he might get asked tough questions about his time in Washington. And according to Shesgreen, Long’s campaign manager “refused to give out any details of Long’s upcoming campaign schedule.”

Now, think about that. Deirdre Shesgreen is the area’s number one political reporter, in terms of telling the locals what their legislators are doing (or, as the study above indicates, not doing) in D.C. and around the district. Yet Billy Long, with the election just two weeks away, won’t even tell her what his campaign schedule is!

That is how politics works here in Republican-dominated southwest Missouri. Long has always had a strategy of lying low and keeping his mouth shut because he knows that come November, the locals will run not walk to their polling places and give him about 65% of the vote. So why shouldn’t he keep bellying up to the buffet and gambling tables and avoiding the press and his non-moneyed constituents?

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. Try finding anything in the Joplin Globe about this stuff. You’d have an easier time finding Ozark Billy.


  1. Searching for something positive to say about Congressman Long, I came up with, well, he’s consistent. But wait. That’s not good, is it? I give up. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim,

      When our legislative group invited him to attend a meeting here in Joplin last Saturday, we didn’t actually expect him to show up personally. We would have settled for a rep from his office, who could explain his positions on various bills that are pending in Congress related to the Postal Service. But no one showed up. Nor has Long committed to supporting (or opposing) much of the legislation that is pending. He apparently doesn’t want to take sides until leadership tells him what to do. That is all I can conclude. The fact that Springfield will lose next year somewhere around 300 jobs that pay 60,000 a year or so doesn’t animate him to get involved all that much in what is happening. That is pathetic, as far as I’m concerned.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. ansonburlingame

     /  October 21, 2014

    Three points.

    First, if Long can win without talking, then why talk? Is that Long’s fault or the voters?

    Second, I am always suspicious of “rankings” by “new studies” coming from either side of the aisle. How does anyone determine the overall “effectiveness” of a legislator. If numbers of bill with his or her name on it is the criteria, then I challenge the “effectiveness” of the study. I look for “good legislation” that is ultimately passed by a majority. And we will never agree on “good legislation”, or bad for that matter.

    Spending on “meals” is one thing. Spending on booze, strippers and flights to Vegas is a whole different matter. The devil is in the details, I suppose.

    Finally, are all of you convienced that Evans will be an “effective” legislator”, or is that just a hope and a prayer for another Democrat?



    • Anson,

      1) It’s the fault of both Long and the voters. And by voters I mean Republican voters.

      2) If you read the methodology of the study, I think you would find it quite fair, even if you don’t think it measures what it ought to measure. It is essentially weighted for new members, among other controls, and even given that, Long wasn’t effective. You have to remember, his party was in the majority and he still was ineffective.

      3) I am convinced that Evans would be a much more thoughtful legislator, which around these parts is a marked improvement, no matter what his legislative effectiveness might be in the minority.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. ansonburlingame

     /  October 23, 2014

    I have always felt that OBL is a “fat dummy”. I have never voted for him, either.

    Long is the quintesstial politician with election as the goal, the primary goal. If getting elected means not talking, well I don’t blame Long directly. It is a proven tactic in many areas, democratic as well as GOP. There are far too many areas of our country where gaining a particularly party nomination is all it takes to become ……..

    My home state of KY in the 40’s and 50’s, much like the rest of the south did not even have a GOP locally all over the state. Like Joplin today, one only had to gain the Dem nomination and the rest was easy, with little or no competition in the general election for just about any public office, from President down to dog catcher. Happy Chanlor, the Commissioner of Baseball and later two term KY governor gained national aclaim. He was nothing more than a back slapping OBL as well, fat, dumb and with a nationally recognized name of “Happy”.

    Take just your blog, Duane, a decidedly aggressive effort to turn GOP voters into Dem voters. Good luck around here. It seems to me that I am the only conservative that bothers to read and comment herein. Most conservatives don’t even know who Duane Graham might be and those that do know you ignore you.

    Changing the political “feelings” of an area is very hard to do. I seriously doubt any Dem candidate will win any election in Jasper Cty for the remainder of my life. I don’t like that either but how to resolve it is beyond me.

    Yes, I will vote for Evans, out of desperation at a personal level. Yet I know little about him and have not even tried to contact him or his handlers. I would only get a canned response from a staffer, or a series of bland emails if they got my email address. I still get many emails from both Claire McC and Blunt. I ignore most of them.

    Our campaigns today are a joke, from both sides. I cannot even research a particular hot topic and then get a reasoned response from any candidate on our local ballots, must of the time. What does Claire or Roy REALLY think about ISIL as only an example. Who knows. Yet neither of them will really try to engage me, teach me, about such a burning issue. I must educate myself and not rely on any biased politician to do so.

    And once I feel competant to write an opinion, well look what happens. I am either ignored or partisians line up to attack or support me based on their own prior preconceived views.

    I think it is called “farting into a hurricane”!!



    • You say you don’t blame Long directly for not talking before an election. I do. It’s his mouth and he controls it. It’s his campaign and he controls it, too. If he clams up in order to get elected, the blame is on him, even if there is blame enough to go around for the voters who will vote for him anyway.

      Yes, I understand I’m not, say, Paul Krugman, Anson. I’m a lowly blogger here in Joplin, Missouri who conservatives either don’t know or ignore, as you say. So what? I write this blog out of a sense of regret for spending so much time advocating on behalf of a conservative philosophy most of which I now find quite disturbing. I’m not pretending that I have the power to change minds, a power that few if any people possess. Mind-changing is not as simple as all that. Most people come to a topic with their minds made up and are seeking validation in one form or another.

      As for campaigns, yes they are something of a joke, particularly campaign advertisements on television. I can’t imagine they are effective, one way or the other, but campaigns keep using them so there must be some amount of effectiveness associated with them. They don’t move me in the slightest one way or the other.

      Finally, I’m glad you are voting for Evans, even if it is out of desperation.


  4. ansonburlingame

     /  October 24, 2014

    We both face the same problems, Duane. Take my “rants” on education. Some will nod their heads in agreement with some of my Globe columns on that subject, even tell me they “really liked your last column”, etc. But understanding the nitty gritty, the huge obstacles to overcome to really improve public education, few have such insight. Others of course will publicly, but usually anonymously call me every name in the book.

    Based on careful thought and long experience I firmly believe “rigor” (intensity, hard work) is the key to better public education. But if I apply such intensity in a class room, which I used to do from time to time, well many rise in ……..!!!

    Seldom do you and I agree on much in national politics. That is fine with me because I have “known” you (from primarily your blog) for about six years and that you know WHY you take various positions. You do your own hard work to reach a conclusion, crazy one or not in my view making no difference whatsoever.

    I respect the views of people that “know what they are talking or writing about”. But I have little respect or canned responses, sound bites usually, whether such views come from Fox News or MSNBC, or ………. In that same vein, I don’t like “spin” either, telling only half the truth.



    • Just as an aside, the problem with your “hard work” theory of education, which I think everyone would agree with generally, is that the teacher in the classroom has no control over what the student does, or does not do, at home. Further, and likely more important, the teacher has no control over the conditions in which any particular student is living. Most students fail in school largely because of poor motivation, which leads to them discounting the importance of paying attention, doing assignments, even picking the right friends. Parenting contributes a lot to the failure or success of students and I don’t see how just “rigor” applied by a teacher in the classroom is the “the key to better public education.” This is a social issue the repercussions of which the teacher is forced to deal with and often is blamed for.


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