Although not a Missouri resident, Robert Bowcock says he believes in the cause, not here to stir up trouble
It’s difficult to miss the bright red signs that have popped up in yards and in windows across Hannibal in recent weeks. The signs advocate for the passage of Proposition 1, an issue on the April 4 ballot that would prohibit the use of ammonia as a disinfectant in the Hannibal Board of Public Works drinking water system.
While the issue has sparked much interest and debate in America’s Hometown, the visibility of campaign signs are thanks in large part to someone who lives 1,500 miles away in southern California.
Robert Bowcock has donated $1,578.33 to Hannibal 2 Oppose Chloramines (H2O-C), which amounts to 85 percent of the funds directly donated to the committee. H2O-C was a driving force to collect the signatures needed to place Proposition 1 on the April ballot and is vigorously advocating for its passage.
According to a report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Bowcock’s contributions are the only expenses the committee has made — all of which went to the purchase of signage. The bright red signs urge voters to “Vote Yes on Prop 1.”
Two different donations during the month of February make up Bowcock’s financial contributions to the committee — one on Feb. 3 for $687.18 and another of Feb. 16 for $891.15. Other direct donations to the committee came from Hannibal residents and add up to $271. It is not common for a non-resident — no less someone who lives half a country away — to donate so significantly to a local race or issue, but Bowcock said he’s “made a personal commitment to help the community and intend to see this through.”
He has served in an advisory capacity with H2O-C alongside Erin Brockovich, a noted water quality advocate. Bowcock founded Integrated Resource Management, LLC (IRM) in 1997. The company, according to its website, “provides practical, comprehensive solutions to a broad array of organizational water needs.”
The address on the MEC report matches IRM’s address in Claremont, Calif. — about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Bowcock said, however, the contributions represent him as an individual, not his business and that the address is both his home and office.
“When I made the commitment, which was almost a year ago, I thought I would get others to donate. That proved to be more difficult than I thought. So, I made good on the promise and paid for the signs myself,” Bowcock said in an emailed response to a Courier-Post inquiry.
After being involved with water quality issues in other parts of the country, he became involved in Hannibal’s water debate after being approached by founding members of H2O-C. He stressed he is not an outsider in Hannibal to stir up trouble, instead saying, “sometimes you just get that feeling and you know in your heart you are doing the right thing and you step up and make it so.”
Bowcock said he’s traveled to Hannibal about six times for the water issues, most notably to speak at a town hall meeting in October 2015 about the use of chloramines as a disinfectant.
Aside from the water issues, he said he’s been to Northeast Missouri on other occasions.
He described involvement with other water quality foundations and charities, but this is the first time he has directly contributed to a campaign.
“Hannibal is ‘America’s Home Town.’ That theme alone makes it an important place to take a stand,” he said. “You can’t fight every fight, so you have to pick a location that will make a powerful statement.”
Campaign or candidate committees that pass a certain threshold of contributions or exceed a certain amount of expenditures are required by Missouri law to file a report with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Those reports are publicly available at www.mec.mo.gov.
Reach editor Eric Dundon at firstname.lastname@example.org .