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Businessman Sam Fox gives $100,000 to Schweich's re-election effort

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 7, 2013: St. Louis businessman Sam Fox, a former ambassador to Belgium and one of the state’s most generous political donors, has given $100,000 this week to state Auditor Tom Schweich, who is expected to seek re-election next year.

Fox earlier had given $50,000 to Schweich in 2012 and again in 2011 – making the chairman of Clayton-based Harbour Group the top donor, by far, to the auditor since he won election in 2010.

Fox’s latest donation more than doubles the bottom line that Schweich reported in his last campaign report, in April, which showed him with only $71,931 in the bank. Since then, Schweich has collected at least $40,000 in large donations, excluding Fox’s generous check, which was reported Friday to the state Ethics Commission.

Schweich, a lawyer from the St. Louis area and a former special ambassador to Afghanistan, has had close ties for years to Fox and former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth. Schweich had been Danforth's chief of staff during the Waco investigation in the 1990s.

Danforth and Fox had helped Schweich in his first 2010 bid for office, in which he knocked off the incumbent Democrat, Susan Montee.

So far, there’s been no word of a prominent Democrat preparing to challenge Schweich’s bid for a second term. Some names may emerge this weekend, when top Democrats gather in St. Louis Saturday night for the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

Schweich is being touted by some allies as a possible GOP candidate for governor in 2016, although he has said he’s currently focused on his 2014 re-election bid.

Such a bid could pose a quandary for Fox, who has donated over the years to Attorney General Chris Koster, a Republican-turned-Democrat who already has made clear he’s running for governor in 2016. Fox gave Koster $50,000 in 2012, to help his successful re-election effort.

As for Schweich, his backers are organizing a fundraiser shortly that is expected to feature former UN ambassador John Bolton, who also aided Schweich in 2010.

No word yet on if another marquee supporter from 2010 – former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – might also stop by the state to offer more Schweich support. Romney may have lost the White House in 2012, but he did quite well among Missouri voters.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.