Last Updated: Sat, Sep 07, 2013 00:16 hrs
Donor is behind effort to ease sex-offender rules
"As the politically connected owners of a multi-state tobacco store chain, Jon Rand and Sharie Keil have contributed thousands of dollars to Missouri politicians and even hired their own lobbyists. But the cause they are pushing right now has nothing to do with cigarettes.
The husband and wife are on a behind-the-scenes mission to pass legislation that would remove hundreds of people convicted of sex crimes as juveniles from the state's online listing of registered sex offenders. Their cause is intensely personal, because their son is among those whose name, photo and address would come down from law enforcement websites.
Their persistent, methodical efforts have set up a political showdown that would have seemed implausible just a few years ago, when the Republican-led Legislature was heaping new restrictions on sex offenders that barred them from coaching youth sports, coming near playgrounds and swimming pools or even passing out candy on Halloween.
"Certainly, I've used whatever access or influence that I've gotten," Rand, the president of Discount Smoke Shop Inc., said in a recent interview. He added: "Anybody on the registry is a target for people who like to hurt other people.""