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Campaign finance reports show impact of new limits for Missouri politicians

U.S. Rep Ann Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin, raised $804,000 from Jan. 1 to March 31.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Rep Ann Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin, raised $804,000 from Jan. 1 to March 31.

While Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and potential GOP rival U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner collect millions of dollars in campaign donations, many Missouri officials are raising far less as they adjust to new state campaign donation limits.

Campaign finance reports from Jan. 1 to March 31 also showed that Gov. Eric Greitens spent more than a half-million dollars in that timespan, with a large chunk going toward a media services firm run by Georgia-based consultant Nick Ayers, who also has done work for Vice President Mike Pence.

Amendment 2 limits statewide officials and Missouri legislators from accepting individual donations of more than $2,600 per election. State campaign reports from Jan. 1 to March 31, due Monday, document the impact since the constitutional amendment went into effect Dec. 8.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, for example, reported raising $137,457 since Dec. 4 (a timeframe that was broader than other campaign reports filed before the deadline). But three-quarters of his money — $100,000 — came from a GOP donor who made the single contribution the day before the new restrictions took effect.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat seeking election in 2018, appeared to have one of the strongest quarters among the statewide candidates — $152,136 since Jan. 1, with a total bank account of $381,662.

Greitens' spending indicates ties with Pence

The campaign committee of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, reported raising only $25,000 during the past three months.

But the biggest news from Greitens’ latest campaign finance report was how much he spent: about $545,000.  More than $190,000 went to c5Creative Consulting, run by Ayers. Greitens also paid about $173,000 to a South Carolina-based advertising company, and reported spending close to $12,000 on various travel expenses.

His reported donations and spending don't include any money going in, or out,of his nonprofit, A New Missouri, Inc., which does not have to report its donations or spending.

His campaign bank account still has about $2.4 million in it, most of which is the result of a post-election fundraising blitz he conducted in the month between his Nov. 7 election and the day Amendment 2 kicked in. (As previously reported, Greitens collected more than $2.3 million in large campaign donations alone Dec. 7.)

McCaskill, Wagner set strong pace

Members of Congress must comply with federal individual donation limits of $2,700 per election. But that hasn’t deterred McCaskill or Wagner, who’ve been prolific money-raisers.

Copies of their campaign finance reports sent to reporters ahead of Monday’s deadline showed McCaskill, a Democrat, raised $2.81 million since Jan. 1. She has about $3.05 million in the bank, and her expenses for the period totaled $540,000.

Wagner, meanwhile, reported raising $804,000 during the past three months, and has $2.77 million in the bank. She has spent just under $205,000 so far this year.

McCaskill already has announced her plans to run for a third term in 2018. Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin, long has been considered a possible challenger but hasn’t telegraphed her plans.

But Republican activists predict she will need to so within the next few months, especially considering that some major Republican donors are encouraging new state Attorney General Josh Hawley to run the U.S. Senate.

The Republican’s latest report shows that he has raised only $3,831 since Jan. 1. But his total bank account has almost $1.07 million in it,  left over from his 2016 campaign.

Hawley won’t be able to use any of his state-raised money for a Senate bid, because of different campaign-finance laws governing state and federal candidates. He would have to set up a new federal campaign committee.

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

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