Sinquefield Is Top Missouri Campaign Donor in 2014; McCaskill Leads Democrats
During 2014, wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield cemented his place as Missouri’s top political donor — by far — by distributing close to $10 million to candidates and political groups.
His top recipient was Grow Missouri, a fiscally conservative political action committee, which received $4.25 million, according to the latest campaign finance reports. Coming in second was the like-minded Missouri arm of the Club for Growth, which collected $2.1 million from Sinquefield, who has homes in St. Louis and mid-Missouri.
Sinquefield’s money represented most of the money that both groups collected in 2014.
The candidates who benefited from Sinquefield’s generosity last year were primarily Republicans and include most of the big names running for office in 2016:
- Former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, the only announced Republican candidate for governor, who received $900,000 from Sinquefield and $100,000 from the Missouri Club for Growth;
- Bev Randles, the former executive director for the state Club for Growth, who received $1 million from Sinquefield in December for her exploratory committee for lieutenant governor.
- State Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, who received $250,000 for his campaign for state treasurer;
- State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who received $250,000 for his bid for attorney general;
- State Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, who received $100,000 for his bid for secretary of state.
- Former state Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, who received $100,000 for his unsuccessful bid for St. Louis County executive.
For many of the candidates, Sinquefield provided the bulk of the money they have raised so far. In Hanaway's case, for example, Sinquefield and Club for Growth provided about three-quarters of the $1.4 million that she has raised.
The Democrat who received the most from Sinquefield was former County Executive Charlie Dooley, who received $100,000 in 2014 for his re-election campaign. Dooley lost in the Aug. 5 primary to now-County Executive Steve Stenger, a Democrat who received no money from Sinquefield.
Former St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida, a Democrat, obtained $40,000 from Sinquefield for her unsuccessful independent campaign for the post. She lost on Nov. 4 to Sharon Carpenter, the official Democratic nominee, who won back the job after being forced to step down as recorder of deeds last summer over accusations of nepotism. Carpenter received no financial help from Sinquefield.
McCaskill is top Democratic donor in Missouri for 2014
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill — a vocal critic of Sinquefield — appears to have been the top Democratic donor in the state in 2014.
Campaign finance reports shows that McCaskill gave almost $1 million in 2014. Most of it — $900,000 — went to the Missouri Democratic Party.
She also gave $11,000 to help elect now-state Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, and $1,000 to new state Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood.
McCaskill announced this week that she's not running for governor and instead plans to get involved in efforts to persuade the General Assembly or the public to reinstate campaign donation limits in the state. Missouri’s previous donation limits, tossed out in 2008, generally applied only to money given to candidates, not political parties.
So far, activists have filed two initiative petitions with the secretary of state’s office to get donation-limit proposals on the 2016 ballot. But no major contributors have yet emerged to bankroll the signature-collection drives that would be necessary.
McCaskill has yet to endorse either drive, or to signal if she will conduct a separate initiative effort.