The St. Louis Regional Chamber Executive Committee has hired a prominent defense attorney and brought in a former Chamber leader as a consultant while it reviews mismanagement claims against its CEO.
Chamber President and CEO Joe Reagan has faced increased scrutiny internally and publicly since anonymous letter writers, believed to be current and former employees, demanded his ouster. The letters, originally sent to the Chamber’s Executive Committee, were eventually leaked to the entire Chamber board and local media.
Defense attorney Robert Haar of Haar & Woods is the Executive Committee’s new “independent counsel,” according to an email from Chamber spokesman David Baldridge. Baldridge said Haar is assisting the committee with its review of allegations against Reagan, but did not elaborate.
Former UniGroup president Richard McClure, who was also previous vice chairman of the Chamber’s Executive Committee, has been brought on as a consultant to the committee. Baldridge did not explain what McClure’s services include.
Baldridge said the Executive Committee has chosen seven of its members to lead the review of Reagan, who joined the Chamber in 2012.
They are Steve Cousins, a partner at Armstrong Teasdale; Don Lents, chair emeritus of Bryan Cave; Tom Minogue, chairman of Thompson Coburn; Danny Ludeman, CEO of Concordance Academy and former CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors; Warner Baxter, board chairman and CEO of Ameren Corp.; Suzanne Sitherwood CEO of Spire; and Rodney Kinzinger, a partner at Edward Jones.
Baxter, Ludeman and Sitherwood specifically are criticized for their relationships with Reagan in the anonymous letters.
Ludeman’s Concordance Academy, a nonprofit re-entry program for ex-offenders released from prison, used office space at the Chamber from 2014 to 2016, which a Chamber spokesman said was reimbursed at “market rates” and was part of the Chamber’s commitment to priorities identified in the “Forward Through Ferguson” report.
The anonymous letter writers allege Ludeman helped get Reagan a seven-year contract extension from the board in 2015.
Sitherwood and Baxter are criticized in the letter for allowing Reagan’s alleged mismanagement, such as running annual budget deficits and creating a hostile work environment, to go unchecked.