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When it comes to Missouri campaign donations, Sinquefield is No. 1

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 30, 2009 - Semi-retired financier Rex Sinquefield, of St. Louis and mid-Missouri, is continuing his politically generous ways.

The latest campaign-donation figures reported on the Missouri Ethics Commission's websiteshow that Sinquefield appears to be on track to become this year's largest individual campaign donor.

His beneficiaries are mostly -- but not all -- Republicans.

In November, his contributions appeared to total at least $100,000; for the year, he has donated more than $500,000 to politicians, candidates or political groups.

The Turner Report first reported that Sinquefield distributed some sizable sums right before Thanksgiving. Among those receiving the money:

-- State Senate Majority Leader Kevin Engler, R-Farmington -- $25,000.

-- State Senate Republicans' Majority Fund Inc. -- $25,000

-- Missouri Republican Party -- $10,000

-- State Sen. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles -- $10,000

-- State Rep. Ted Hoskins, D-St. Louis -- $10,000

A week earlier, on Nov. 16, Sinquefield donated $5,001 to new state Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis. (That contribution was first noted by Political Fix.)

UPDATE: Sinquefield legislative director Travis Brown said late Monday that Sinquefield did, indeed, (as P-D reporter Jake Wagman speculated) give that extra dollar to Keaveny to ensure that the donation would be reported to the Ethics Commission within 48 hours. Donations of $5,000 or less can wait until the next quarterly campaign report (next due on Jan. 15.)

"Full disclosure is the best campaign finance system we can have,'' said Brown, reflecting Sinquefield's well-known opposition to Missouri's now-defunct campaign-donation limits, removed by the Legislature and then-Gov. Matt Blunt in 2007.

Since he burst onto the Missouri political-donor scene in a big way just a few years ago, Sinquefield has been upfront with his key issues -- eliminating the Missouri income tax and the local earnings tax in St. Louis and improving education opportunities through various means, including some sort of tax break for parents seeking to send their children to non-public schools, especially those residing in failing school systems.

Brown agreed that Sinquefield's donations are issue-directed. "Rex remains serious about people who are serious about creating new jobs for Missouri,'' Brown said. "He's still active at a time when Missouri needs big thinkers."

And, from politicians' standpoint, big donors. In 2008, his contributions totalled more than $1 million to candidates and education groups.

(In the interest of this media outlet's full disclosure, Sinquefield's foundation is among the donors to the St. Louis Beacon.)

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.