Chris Koster

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaking Monday at a news conference before the grand jury announcement on Monday, Nov 25, 2014
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

Within minutes after St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that the grand jury did not recommend that Darren Wilson face indictment for the shooting death of Michael Brown, reactions from area politicians came quickly. 

Before and after the grand jury’s decision was made public, area officials made clear Monday night that they understood the stakes.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

State Auditor Tom Schweich has yet to decide whether to run for governor in 2016, but he’s making clear that lots of high-profile fellow Republicans want him to do so.

On Thursday, Schweich’s allies released “an open letter’’ signed by more than 120 donors and party activists who want him to run for governor.

The aim of Schweich’s supporters is to portray him as a better choice, backed by more party big shots, than former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, who already has declared her candidacy – and has promoted her own high-profile support.

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:

Outgoing Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones announced Wednesday that he has formed the House Oversight Committee on Public Officials and Government Accountability “to conduct a thorough investigation of the numerous alleged improprieties and political shakedowns as outlined in a recent extensive investigatory piece in The New York Times.”

Lilly Leyh and Sadie Pierce wait to get their marriage license on Nov. 5, 2014, at the St. Louis recorder of deeds office.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Last week, a federal judge in Kansas City followed a St. Louis judge and struck down Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“As it stands right now, marriage between same-sex couples is legal in Missouri,” A.J. Bockelman, executive director of Promo, told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Monday. Promo is a statewide organization that advocates for equality. “We have licenses being issued in St. Louis, St. Louis County and Kansas City.”

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

State Sen. Scott Sifton became the first Democrat to jump into the 2016 race for attorney general. 

In an e-mail this weekend to supporters, the Affton Democrat cited his experience working in the attorney general’s office and his tenure in the legislature as rationale for his statewide run. 

His campaign sent out an e-mail on Monday morning officially announcing his candidacy. He said in a statement that "as attorney general, I will work to make Missouri safer for every family, consumer, community and business.”

Lilly Leyh and Sadie Pierce wait to get their marriage license on Nov. 5, 2014, at the St. Louis recorder of deeds office.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:50 p.m. with comments from plaintiff Kyle Lawson.

Two days after a state judge in St. Louis came to the same conclusion, a federal judge in Kansas City has struck down Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage.  

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.

We're getting close to Election Day, and that means St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum are returning to the show's "classic" format to preview the main races in St. Louis and throughout the Show Me State.

By Missouri standards, Tuesday's election is relatively quiet, especially because the only statewide race for state auditor is essentially uncontested. And Republicans aren't expected to lose their firm hold on the Missouri House or Senate.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1991, then-Missouri Attorney General Bill Webster’s ascension to become the next governor seemed inevitable. He had the looks, charisma, campaign cash and the connections.

But then a controversy erupted over whether his office was giving preferential treatment to donors when it came to state contracts. A federal investigation ensued. Webster’s reputation took a huge hit.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

This week, the Politically Speaking crew welcomes Gregg Keller, a locally based Republican consultant who now runs his own firm, Atlas Strategy Group.

Keller represents a number of corporate and political clients, including state Auditor Tom Schweich, who’s expected to run for governor in 2016.

A graduate of Clayton High School, Keller got his political start after college (Florida State). He began as a volunteer, and later as a staffer, for Jim Talent when he ran in 2002 for the U.S. Senate (defeating Democratic incumbent Jean Carnahan).

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated noon, Thursday, Oct. 9)

Although a number of Missouri’s top Republicans are blasting state Attorney General Chris Koster over same-sex marriage, it’s unclear what his critics plan to do about it.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, summed up the conservative predicament. “Having already disregarded the voice of the people when they amended our constitution in 2004, it is unlikely (Koster) would pay any attention to the legislature,” Dempsey said Wednesday.

Wikimedia Commons

(Updated at 5:45 p.m. with quotes from the ACLU and additional information.)

Attorney General Chris Koster will not appeal a Kansas City judge's ruling that ordered the state of Missouri to recognize the marriage of same-sex couples who wed outside of the state. 

"Our national government is founded upon principles of federalism – a system that empowers Missouri to set policy for itself, but also obligates us to honor contracts entered into in other states," Koster said in a statement.  Missouri's future will be one of inclusion, not exclusion."

Wikipedia

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has lost the first round of a legal fight to protect Missouri egg producers from stricter California regulations.

A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit filed by Missouri and five other states on behalf of their egg producers. Those states oppose a California law, set to go in effect in January,  that would bar the sale of eggs from states that allow hens to be housed in enclosures deemed too cramped.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer nearly two months ago once again shed light on the deep racial divisions that exist in the St. Louis region. Nowhere is that more apparent than in local police departments, which often don’t look like the communities they serve. 

Janice Barrier (left) and her wife Sheri Schild were one of the 10 couples who sued the state to have their marriage recognize in Missouri.
Rachel Lippmann I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:30 p.m. to reflect the correct number of couples involved in the suit.

Ten same-sex couples from Missouri will head to court in Kansas City on Thursday for the first day of a case seeking recognition of their marriages.  

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, center, with Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, right, at area high school during height of unrest in Ferguson.
Missouri Attorney General's Office | File photo

Most of the region’s major political and law-enforcement figures are taking part in a special roundtable that Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has set up to discuss how to increase the number of minorities going into law enforcement.

The three-hour session begins at 9 a.m., Wed., Oct. 1 in the J.C. Penney Conference Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Wednesday’s roundtable will be followed by a similar gathering in Kansas City on Oct. 14.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Budget leaders in the Missouri House and Senate say they’ll try to override at least 50 of Gov. Jay Nixon’s line-item vetoes in the state budget in the veto sessions starting Wednesday.

But the governor and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster say legislators may be wasting their time. And the legislators acknowledged that such override attempts may indeed be symbolic.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, center, with Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, right, at area high school during height of unrest in Ferguson.
Missouri Attorney General's Office | File photo

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster plans to host a two-day public workshop this fall – in St. Louis and Kansas City – to probe ways to improve the minority makeup in both region’s law-enforcement agencies.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Although the Missouri Highway Patrol is overseeing the police presence in Ferguson, it quickly has become apparent that neither the patrol nor Gov. Jay Nixon is in control of all law-enforcement actions.

That lack of control already is leading to unwanted surprises that revolve around a central question:  Who is in charge?

That question also applies to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who are battling over who should control a local probe into the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown. 

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed has an idea about what’s driving the frustration about Michael Brown’s death. 

As federal and local investigations into Brown’s shooting death unfold, Reed said more and more people want details and quick action. They want to know what really happened when a Ferguson police officer shot the 18-year-old last Saturday.

“We need to get some information out, some good solid information out,” said Reed on St. Louis on the Air on Monday. “The people need to know what direction we’re taking. Not we, but the department is taking.”

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Secretary of State Jason Kander is throwing his supporting behind the so-called “right to farm” amendment. 

Friday afternoon Kander’s office sent out a statement indicating that he will vote for Amendment 1. Supporters say that it enshrines the right to farm within the state constitution, but opponents say it would make it harder to stop industrial farms from polluting. (Read more about the debate over the amendment here.)

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum talk about the week’s politics.  This week the trio discusses the last-minute money surge to the state’s primary candidates, as well as key races in St. Louis. 

The Politically Speaking crew also talked about U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s big donation to the state Democratic Party and what it means for state legislative contests in the fall.

On the show:

Parth Shah/St. Louis Public Radio

Let’s not mince any words: If he's elected later this year, neither St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley nor Councilman Steve Stenger will have any power to alter Missouri’s abortion policies. 

The county executive essentially has no authority to enact or repeal restrictions on abortion – the state does. And it’s highly unlikely that Stenger's or Dooley’s power of persuasion will change the course of a Missouri legislature overwhelmingly opposed to abortion rights.

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.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

The group backing the proposed transportation sales tax is the biggest money-raising operation in the state – but it has yet to air a single TV ad.

Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs, the campaign committee for the sales tax known as Amendment 7, appears to be entering the final weeks of the campaign with more than $2.5 million to spend.

Chris Koster
(Official Portrait, Missouri Attorney General's office)

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster’s decision to endorse the proposed “Right To Farm’’ constitutional amendment is resurrecting a split within Democratic ranks over the issue – and him.

Koster, a Republican-turned-Democrat, now is seen as the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor in 2016.  He also has become the de facto leader of the state Democratic Party, in part because he’s currently the party’s largest single donor.

Bill Greenblatt/UPI

(Updated 11:40 a.m. Friday, June 27)

Just a few weeks ago, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster  was publicly exhorting Missouri Republicans to change their party’s platform, which endorses the state’s 10-year-old constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

 UPDATED 6/20/14 to correct description of radioactivity testing along waste haul routes.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has reached a new agreement with Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services.

It includes additional measures that Republic must take to monitor the movement of an underground fire at the landfill and to control the foul odors ― and potentially toxic gases ― emanating from it.

Those measures include:

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

(Updated 10:50 p.m., Sat., June 7)

Seven years after leaving the Republican Party, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has in effect taken the reins of the Missouri Democratic Party. 

That point was underscored Saturday night when -- shortly before the Democrats' annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner --  Koster presented the state party chairman a check for $100,000.

That's the second such six-figure donation that Koster has given the state Democratic operation in the past year -- making him the largest single donor to the state party.

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