Campaign Finance

St. Louis Alderwoman Donna Baringer, D-16th Ward, is considered an ally of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. But she says voters should have a say in whether to extend bonds for the new stadium.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

A commission that would accept ethics complaints against elected officials in the city of St. Louis could have its duties expanded.

The commission is part of Alderman Scott Ogilvie's, D-24th Ward, measure capping campaign contributions $10,000 for both citywide and aldermanic races. As the bill is currently written, members of the panel would investigate complaints about financial disclosure or conflicts of interest.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

The introduction of honored guests is a weekly ritual at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Residents of the city's 28 wards are welcomed to the chambers, and allowed to sit on the floor rather than up in the gallery. But more often than not, most of the honored guests would be considered lobbyists.

A group of younger aldermen wants to make the weekly welcomes take a lot less time by banning lobbyists from the floor of the Board while they are in session — "if for any reason at all, optics," said Alderman Megan-Elliya Green, D-15th Ward.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

(Updated 12:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16,  with additional candidate filings)

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster continues to hold a huge financial edge over all of his Republican rivals for governor next year.

Koster, a Democrat with no major opposition from his own party, has banked more than $5 million, according to his latest campaign-finance report filed Thursday.

His bank account is more than twice as fat as that of the top-raising Republican seeking the job, former Navy Seal Eric Greitens., who reported $2.3 million.

The latest campaign-finance report for Attorney General Chris Koster, the only major Missouri Democratic candidate for governor, shows that he continues to outraise his 2016 rivals on both parties.

Koster reports almost $4 million in the bank after raising almost a $1 million during past three months. Both tallies are more than those reported by any of the Republicans – including likely candidate Eric Greitens, who appears to have the most momentum on the GOP side.

Author Eric Greitens talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on March 16, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens, author and former Navy Seal, has yet to officially announce whether he’s seeking Missouri’s Republican nomination for governor in 2016.

But St. Louis-based Greitens already has collected at least $1.4 million in 2015 in large donations of more than $5,000 apiece. His largest monthly haul -- $540,000 – was in June.

So far this year, Greitens has been Missouri’s undisputedly biggest recipient of large donations.

Rodney Hubbard
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome former state Rep. Rodney Hubbard.

After serving in the Missouri House in the 2000s, Hubbard now works as a lobbyist and consultant. He's also a member of one of the region's most politically prominent families.

His clients include the city of St. Louis, AmerenUE and the Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis. He’s also done work in the past for Paul McKee, the controversial developer behind the Northside Regeneration project.

Attorney General Chris Koster parts ways with the Missouri Democratic Party on the issue of campaign donation limits. His position on the issue may make already difficult road to capping donations impossible if he becomes governor.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Sen. Rob Schaaf probably wouldn’t be classified as bleeding heart liberal.

Throughout his tenure in the Missouri General Assembly, the St. Joseph Republican took sometimes-provocative conservative positions in battles over Medicaid expansion and unemployment benefits. He's encountered rightward plaudits and gubernatorial jeers for his latest stance against a St. Louis stadium funding plan.

But Schaaf parts ways with his party on campaign donation limits.

photo of Thomas Schweich
Provided by the auditor's office

The campaign operation for the late state Auditor Tom Schweich, who killed himself, is reporting that it has returned more than $370,000 in campaign donations, including $75,000 to Clayton business magnate Sam Fox and his wife.

New numbers show Missouri's women who worked full-time earned about 78 percent of men's earnings in 2013.
(via Flickr/Tax Credits)

As Missouri legislators roam the state Capitol, they frequently run into familiar lobbyists. More and more, though, these lobbyists are working for groups financed by unfamiliar donors. In fact, their identity is secret.

Such groups are nonprofits officially known as 501C4s, a designation that refers to a provision of the IRS’ tax code. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010 known as “Citizens United,” these organizations can get involved in politics in favor or opposition of candidates, just like political action committees.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

To repair his reputation, Missouri Attorney Chris Koster has announced self-imposed guidelines on what campaign donations he will accept as he runs his office while also running for governor in 2016.

In a statement, Koster said he was advancing “sweeping new transparency measures’’ that he acknowledged were intended to address some conflict-of-interest accusations that have been leveled against him.

But he also suggested that the General Assembly consider imposing similar campaign limits on other public officials.

His key restrictions include:

Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is proposing that the state’s voters be asked once again to increase the state’s tobacco tax, now among the nation’s lowest.

But instead of previous failed proposals that would have directed the bulk of the money raised for health care programs, Koster would use the estimated $400 million a year primarily to pay for state incentives to improve the business climate and attract more jobs.

Steve Stenger, Democrat, left, and Rick Stream, Republican, are running for St. Louis County executive.
Photos courtesy of the candidates

Steve Stenger, the Democratic candidate for St. Louis County executive, is entering the final weeks of the contest with more than twice the money in the bank as Republican rival Rick Stream.

In reports filed Wednesday, Stenger reported that he had raised $447,244 since the Aug. 5 primary and had $400,902 in the bank.  That compares to only $173,081 raised by Stream, who reported $155,068 on hand.

Stenger also has outspent Stream: $322,562 compared to Stream’s $246,512.

Rex Sinquefield
Courtesy of Rex Sinquefield's website

Former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway got $750,000 this week from wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield for her 2016 campaign for governor. That’s more than 10 times what she raised during the past three months.

That huge donation was condemned late Wednesday by her potential rival, state Auditor Tom Schweich, a fellow Republican. His campaign accused Hanaway of being “dependent on one man and his self-proclaimed ‘political army.’ “

DO NOT USE too small
Missouri Senate website

State Sen. Eric Schmitt, R- Glendale, has amassed more than $1.5 million in the bank in his bid to become Missouri’s next state treasurer – a notably hefty campaign war chest aimed in part in unsettling any potential 2016 rivals.

Schmitt provided St. Louis Public Radio with an advanced copy of his latest campaign-finance report, due today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

His latest report, coupled with one he filed in late July right before the Aug. 5 primary, shows that Schmitt has raised $726, 700 since July 1.

flickr/yomanimus

The seven or eight people who love watching political ads will be in for an exciting three weeks.  

Everybody else in Missouri may want to become familiar with the “fast forward” button on their DVRs.

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

A fundraising quarter before an election is when Missouri politics starts getting real. 

And by “getting real,” I mean getting "real expensive.”

Tuesday is the deadline for campaign committees to turn in their fund-raising reports. These are the documents showing how much money political candidates and ballot initiatives have for the final push to the Aug. 5 primary.  They can also reveal how much cash is being shelled out in competitive primaries.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., contends that Missouri’s “Wild West” approach to politics — which imposes no restrictions on campaign donations or lobbyists — is partly to blame for her party’s lack of a candidate for state auditor this fall.

But the senator also asserts that the current state of affairs for Missouri campaigns isn’t good for anyone or any political party, calling it “bizarre and, frankly, not good for our government.”

U.S. Supreme Court
Matt H. Wade | Wikipedia

(Updated 4:30 p.m., Wed., April 2 with comments from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.)

For the second time in four years, the five Republican-appointed justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have opened the door for rich donors to increase their influence on elections. 

Rexsinquefield.org

The latest chapter of Power Players – Jason Rosenbaum's periodic watchdog report on political fundraising in Missouri – shows that Democrats topped Republicans in collecting big donations in 2013. But Rex Sinquefield was the state's most prolific donor. Again.

When it comes to campaign financing, one name stands out: Rex Sinquefield. 

In 2013, an off year politically, the retired financier gave millions in campaign contributions — primarily to ballot initiatives and political action committees. Most of Sinquefield's money went toward an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of tax cut legislation. Sinquefield also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars for ballot initiatives, including one to curtail teacher tenure.

(via Flickr/401K)

For most intents and purposes, it was all quiet on Missouri's electoral front in 2013. But that didn’t stop the money from flowing to candidates and campaigns. 

Throughout last year, a diverse group of donors gave well over $21 million worth of donations of $5,000 or more. That money flowed to candidates, political party committees, ballot initiatives and political action committees in all corners of the state.

The long-simmering fight over campaign contribution limits is heating up once again. The latest chapter: a Kansas City court is to hear oral arguments Wednesday in the case between Missouri Roundtable for Life, which supports contribution limits, and libertarian interests, headed up by Rex Sinquefield.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie, I-24th Ward
Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon's Chris McDaniel joins Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum to talk about the week’s politics. 

On this holiday edition of the podcast, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum welcome St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie, I-24th Ward to the show. Chris McDaniel is on assignment this week.

Tim Bommel/Mo. House Communications

Updated 7:19 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 12

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is once again pressing for ethics reform in state government, and for the resurrection of campaign donation limits. But this time, Nixon may be hoping for stronger interest in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, where some GOP legislators now share some of his views.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner has been in office less than a year, but she already is displaying the fundraising expertise that caught fellow Republicans’ attention when she chaired the Missouri GOP in the late 1990s and served as co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

The latest campaign finance report filed today by Wagner, R-Ballwin, shows that she has raised: $258,115 since July 1 and spent only $110,211.

Missouri's biggest political contributor is fighting against a constitutional amendment that would severely limit his power.

Libertarian multimillionaire Rex Sinquefield and one of his lobbyists, Travis Brown, filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jason Kander and Auditor Tom Schweich, arguing that a proposed ballot initiative violates their right to free speech.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As expected, first-term U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner has blown away her Missouri colleagues in the House, when it comes to raising campaign money.

Reports filed this week confirm that Wagner, R-Ballwin, raised more than twice as much this spring as her nearest money-raising rival in the House – fellow Republican Billy Long of Springfield.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is keeping up his financial momentum for his acknowledged bid for governor in 2016. His latest campaign-finance report shows that he already has banked $781,410 – with two-thirds of it raised just since April 1.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri state Auditor Tom Schweich so far has amassed $293,825 in the bank for his expected 2014 re-election bid, thanks in part to a $100,000 donation from prominent St. Louis businessman Sam Fox.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Just months after his record-setting re-election, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay appears to have amassed another hefty campaign bank account that’s among the largest for top Missouri Democrats.

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