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Koster, Transportation Tax Backers Lead Campaign Money-Raising

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.

The group’s latest report, filed Tuesday with the Missouri Ethics Commission, showed it with almost $1.6 million in the bank as of June 30.  But just since July 1, the group has collected at least $1 million more in large donations, reported separately.

Backers of the proposed three-quarter cent sales tax appear to be banking on a last-minute ad blitz on TV stations and in mailboxes to help sway voters who both parties suspect may be leery of the proposal.  The proposed sales tax hike is estimated to raise more than $550 million a year for 10 years to pay for road, highway and bridge improvements.

The pro-sales tax coalition includes most of the major business groups and labor unions in the state.  The opponents include Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri chapter of the League of Women Voters, who call for other ways to raise money for the state’s infrastructure needs.

Koster, Schmitt, Schweich report strong tallies for likely 2016 bids

Once again, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster – a Democrat running for governor in 2016 -- is raising more money than any other candidate in the state, in any party.

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

Koster’s latest report showed that he has raised $3.11 million as of June 30, including at least $526,896 since April 1.  He reported $2.25 million in the bank. That’s far more than the combined total of two of his possible Republican rivals, state Auditor Tom Schweich and former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway.

Schweich reported raising $309,879 during the past three months, part of the $1.5 million that he’s raised overall.  As of June 30, Schweich had $1.09 million in the bank.

Schweich is running for re-election this fall, but since he has no Democratic opponent, Schweich is expected to use much of the cash that he’s raising now for a possible bid for governor in 2016.

Hanaway already has announced her bid for governor in 2016.  But she raised only $134,507 during the quarter and $443,897 overall. As of June 30, she had $388,762 in the bank.

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich. (via Office of the Auditor)
Credit State Auditor's office
Tom Schweich

State Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, announced his 2016 bid for state treasurer earlier this month. He reported $912,340 in the bank as of June 30. But that doesn’t include the $300,000 in large donations he’s raised since then, including $250,000 from wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield.

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a Democrat who can't seek re-election because of term limits, raised no money during the past three months. He reported $216,637 in the bank.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat expected to seek re-election, reported raising only $60,519 during the quarter. As of June 30, he had $437,216 in the bank.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, has started to raise money again. He collected $64,450 during the last quarter, spent $70,361 and reported $68,012 in the bank. Kinder still has a campaign debt of $1,396.

And Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat once known as a money-raising machine, is continuing to take a break. During the last three months, he raised only $2,503 in cash, and collected another $1,250 in inkind contributions. After spending $37,950 during the quarter, the governor still had $349,078 in the bank as of June 30.

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