On March 4, St. Louis County invited companies to bid on selling the Board of Elections 1,200 computerized tablets to check in voters at polling precincts. One well-connected vendor provided more than the 52-page bid documents had spelled out. On March 11, Scott Leiendecker donated $10,000 to the campaign treasury of County Executive Steve Stenger, according to documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Two months later, the County Board of Elections awarded Leiendecker’s company a contract worth up to $2.1 million to supply the county with the company’s “first of its kind, tablet-based electronic poll book.” It’s not the only time Stenger campaign donors have recently benefited from the county’s business. As the Post-Dispatch previously reported, Stenger just last month announced that the county planned to move the Elections Board from its longtime headquarters in Maplewood to renovated offices at the former Northwest Plaza shopping center in St. Ann. The development is owned by David and Bob Glarner, who donated $75,000 to Stenger last year through a holding company. The 20-year lease is worth up to $50 million in rent from the Elections Board and two other county agencies relocating there.
Leiendecker, a former Republican elections director for St. Louis, is the founder and managing director of KnowiNK, a local startup that has successfully marketed its trademark “poll pad” to election authorities in Missouri and several other states. Another bidder, Konnech Inc. of Okemos, Mich., received a separate $364,000 contract to oversee the county “Election Management System.”
There is no record of campaign contributions from Konnech or two unsuccessful poll book developers, Scytl Corp. of Oklahoma City and ES&S Inc. of Omaha, Neb. The KnowiNK and Konnech contracts were never discussed, considered or authorized by the County Council.
To West County Republican Councilman Mark Harder, the Leiendecker donation in tandem with the bypassing of the council on a multimillion-dollar contract “doesn’t pass the smell test.”