Missouri: Show Me the Corruption

Yesterday the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which provides protection for same-sex marriages from the corrupt Supreme Court. These twelve Republicans voted with the Dems: Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cynthia M. Lummis (Wyo.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Todd C. Young (Ind.).

Roy Blunt is about to be replaced by Eric Schmitt. I never liked Blunt, but Eric Schmitt is a walking shit show. And the Kansas City Star has turned up something suspicious about him. The KC Star tends to be behind a paywall, so I’m linking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch here:

While Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in the past year traveled around the state and even out of state whipping up controversy to aid his U.S. Senate run, who was footing his travel bills? Schmitt isn’t saying. An investigation by The Kansas City Star has turned up more questions than answers.

The newspaper reports that Schmitt’s state office claims to have no travel expense records for Schmitt since 2020, even though he clearly was traveling during that time. If the taxpayers funded it, they have a right to the details. If his Senate campaign or its supporters funded it, that would seem to be evidence that Schmitt was in fact using his state office to campaign for the Senate. As if further proof was needed.

It has long been obvious that Schmitt abused his official powers to file ideologically loaded lawsuits designed to fire up the Republican base — against Missouri schools, against the federal government, against China. As part of those efforts, he preened for the cameras in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Mexican border and elsewhere.

Unless Schmitt is now acknowledging that it was all a political roadshow, rather than legitimate work for the Missouri taxpayers, how does he justify refusing to divulge who paid for the plane tickets and hotel rooms?

“Missourians have not paid for Attorney General Schmitt’s official travel,” Chris Nuelle, spokesman for Schmitt’s state office, told the newspaper. That’s an odd statement in itself. It also contradicts Nuelle’s own statement last year that Schmitt’s October 2021 trip to Texas’ southern border to showboat about immigration reform was in fact tax-funded. So which is it?

And if Schmitt’s official travel wasn’t tax-funded, why not? Schmitt claims these trips were necessary in his official capacity as Missouri’s attorney general. If that’s true, the taxpayers should be paying for them.

So who did pay? Nuelle demurred (“I’m only able to speak to what was paid for by the official office”) and there were no indications that Schmitt’s Senate campaign paid for it.

It would have been nice if this had been turned up before the midterms. It may not have made a difference, of course. I remember that when Claire McCaskill was running for re-election in 2018, it was revealed she was doing some of the campaign travel on an “RV tour” on her own private plane. This was blown up into a huge scandal that may have put the odious Josh Hawley in the Senate. But a Republican doing the same thing wouldn’t have caused so much as a raised eyebrow.

See also Democrat alleges Missouri investigating hospital in retaliation for ad critical of Eric Schmitt and Missouri’s aging Sunshine Law is too easy for politicians to ignore. Strengthen it. From the latter: “As attorney general, both Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt made pursuit of public records almost impossible. But government documents belong to the taxpayers, not politicians.” Yeah, Hawley was state AG before Schmitt. They both used the office to get themselves noticed and to campaign for the Senate.