Campaign Finance | St. Louis Public Radio

Campaign Finance

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Recently, longtime St. Louis Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. sent a letter to a number of friends and supporters asking for contributions for his daughter’s college education. The letter begins, “Hello dear friend and supporter: This is Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. requesting your support once more.”

This fundraising letter was not illegal, but it was wrong. The alderman disagrees.

(via Flickr/yomanimus)

St. Louis aldermen have begun considering whether to limit the amount of money flowing into city politics.

The measure from Ald. Scott Ogilvie limits donations of all kinds to $3,000 for aldermanic races, and $10,00 to contests for board president, mayor and comptroller. The amounts are indexed to inflation, but they do not apply to candidates spending their own money.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is taking a wait-and-see approach on a recently introduced bill to cap campaign contributions for city offices.

But Slay said he supports “reasonable” contribution limits, which he noted were in place for years before the Missouri General Assembly removed them in 2008.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Just days before the election, the St. Louis region’s major energy and defense companies – Peabody Energy and Boeing Co. – are jumping into the 8th District congressional contest, with last-minute donations to Republican Jason Smith.

Peabody’s political action committee gave $5,000 to Smith, while senior vice president Fred Palmer donated $2,600, both within the last 10 days. Both sums were the maximum allowed under federal contribution limits.

Scott Ogilvie
Provided by Mr. Ogilvie | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If there’s one message that Alderman Scott Ogilvie wants to deliver with his bill restricting campaign contributions to city of St. Louis candidates, it’s that Missouri’s situation is not the norm.

From a practical standpoint, Ogilvie is correct. Missouri is one of only four states without contribution limits, a distinction that’s spurred much discussion  -- and, in some cases, derision – over the past few years.

Flickr/Rob Lee

The Missouri Senate declined to vote on an ethics bill, including a proposal to reinstate campaign contribution limits.

The Senate on Wednesday debated the measure that also would have imposed a 10-year period before lawmakers could become lobbyists. The bill also would've required lawmakers to electronically report contributions of more than $25 during legislative sessions.

_J_D_R_ / Flickr

Time is running short for any legislative efforts to tighten Missouri's campaign finance rules.

Campaign finance appears to have taken a secondary position at the state Capitol, where the focus has included economic development, taxes and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled. Lawmakers have about a month remaining until their mandatory adjournment.

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