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Koster's first TV ad again emphasizes prosecutorial experience

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 18, 2012 - Attorney General Chris Koster released the first ad of his re-election campaign, utilizing familiar imagery and messaging to chastise his Republican opponent for lacking prosecutorial experience.

The ad – entitled “Conviction” – features the Democratic official speaking into the camera, alluding to his current statewide position and his prior job as Cass County prosecutor. During his 2008 run, Koster – then a state senator – emphasized his tenure in the county office as a selling point over his Republican opponents.

“Being a prosecutor is about conviction – the ones you get, the one you live by,” Koster says in the ad. “If you live in the state of Missouri, this office will protect you. And if you hurt the people of Missouri, this office will prosecute you.”

When Koster says “this office will prosecute you,” the ad shifts to a still picture of Koster holding a shotgun.

In the spot – which uses some of the same b-roll utilized in his 2008 ads – makes a reference to how Republican attorney general hopeful Ed Martin doesn’t have a background in criminal law. That argument is similar to one Koster made in 2008, when he won a narrow victory over GOP candidate Michael Gibbons.

“I’ve prosecuted over 100 murder cases and won thousands of convictions," Koster said. "My opponent has never even had a jury trial or put even one criminal behind bars. Missouri’s top law enforcement job isn’t where beginners go to learn.”

Martin’s legal career has included stints as the director of the Human Rights Office for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a clerk at the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and a commercial litigator for Bryan Cave. He also served as chairman of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners and as chief of staff for Gov. Matt Blunt.

Soon after the ad was released, Martin's campaign sent out a news release that included articles about high crime rates in Missouri cities and rampant meth production in the state's rural areas.

Martin campaign manager Steve Michael said in a statement that "the numbers are a sign of failed policies over the past 20 years under liberal Democrat Attorneys General."

Martin’s campaign this week announced a “Crime Cutting Council,” an entity that features current and former officials. According to a news release, the council will serve as “an advisory board to Martin within the Attorney General’s office and help tackle some of Missouri’s toughest criminal issues such as urban and drug crimes.”

One of the people announced as part of the council is Livingston County Prosecutor Adam Warren, who lost to Martin in the GOP primary for attorney general. Warren made his prosecutorial experience a selling point in the campaign, as well as his opposition to the federal health care bill.

Koster’s ads could become commonplace across the state, as he has significantly more money on hand than Martin. Koster last week received two $250,000 checks from the DAGA and retired financer Rex Sinquefield.

Mamtek CEO charged

Meanwhile, Koster was in Moberly Tuesday to announce that Bruce Cole, the chairman and CEO of Mamtek, had been charged with stealing and four counts of securities fraud.

According to a release from Koster's office, Cole allegedly directed a Mamtek consultant to prepare a $4,062,500 invoice for "Ramwell Industrial Inc." The release goes onto say that the invoice - which was submitted even though "Ramwell was never incorporated, never had any employees, never owned any property, and never provided any goods or services to Mamtek U.S."

The day after the invoice was submitted, Koster office says that Cole instructed a bookkeeper to wire $700,000 to Cole’s wife, Nanette. Nanette Cole then wrote a $281,046.30 to "cash" and made a mortgage payment.

Mamtek became a hot issue in 2011, when lawmakers were deliberating whether to pass wide-ranging economic development legislation. The state offered around $17 million in tax credits for the mid-Missouri project, while Moberly guaranteed close to $40 million in bonds to construct the plant.

The state did not pay out any incentives because all hinged on the actual creation of permanent jobs, which did not happen.

Koster said in a statement that his office also alleges "that, in securing the financing for the Mamtek facility in Moberly, Mr. Cole misrepresented or failed to disclose important facts that would affect an investor’s assessment of the viability of Mamtek’s plan to produce sucralose.”

“For example, we allege that Cole falsely represented that the sucralose manufacturing process did not include hazardous materials,” Koster said.

If convicted on all counts, Cole could face up to 55 years in prison. (Start of update) Later on Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Cole had been hit with a civil suit alleging that he committed fraud related to the offer and sale of municipal bonds. (End of update)

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.