Missouri school board member starts beard PAC

A Columbia school board member is rallying for his fellow hirsute politicians in need of more campaign cash.

Jonathan Sessions and a friend have created a political action committee known as Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy. That's BEARD, for short.

Sessions was coy as to whether the independent expenditure committee is an act of satire or a legitimate super PAC created to raise unlimited donations, the Columbia Missourian reported this week (bit.ly/Zg7nR2). The group recently registered with the Federal Elections Committee.

"We're as serious as the opportunity to raise unlimited funds and spend them toward campaigning with little accountability," he said with a laugh.

The 30-year-old information technology specialist said he's worn a beard continuously for the past eight years. So do many of his peers -- just not the ones in elected office, he said. Sessions said he and co-founder Andy Shapero, a friend from high school who now lives in Chicago, first came up with the idea for BEARD PAC a decade ago.

"There has been an obvious decline in popularity of beards for politicians," Sessions said. "My generation has become more accepting of beards as a grooming choice, and that's a change I would like to see reflected in politics."

The last president to wear a beard was Benjamin Harrison, who was elected 125 years ago.

"Even in TV shows or movies, the bad guy usually has a beard and the good guy is clean-shaven," Sessions said. "Our goal is to suggest that sometimes Prince Charming can have a lavish beard, too."

As to how much facial hair constitutes a beard? Mustaches are out, but goatees count, Sessions said. A beard review committee is being formed to evaluate beards on a case-by-case basis, he said.

"If a candidate has the dedication to grow and maintain a quality beard, that shows a dedication to quality service," Sessions said. "Now, we're not endorsing every bearded candidate, but the right bearded candidates who can best serve the population they represent."