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Politically Speaking: Attorney General Schmitt On How He’s Reshaping His Latest Statewide Office

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt

Attorney General Eric Schmitt is the latest guest on Politically Speaking, where the GOP statewide official talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about his first few months in office.

Gov. Mike Parson appointed Schmitt to succeed Josh Hawley, who resigned as attorney general after being elected to the U.S. Senate. Before taking on the role of attorney general, Schmitt served as state treasurer and as a state senator.

Schmitt actually mulled running for attorney general in the run-up to the 2016 election. But the St. Louis County native chose to run for state treasurer, which allowed him to avoid what was shaping up to be an expensive and contentious primary between Hawley and then-state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia.

Soon after taking over as attorney general in early January, Schmitt announced a number of high-profile initiatives. One included deputizing assistant attorneys general as special assistant U.S. attorneys. Schmitt said that’s allowed his office to work with federal authorities more closely on cracking down on violent crime. He’s also soliciting information from Missourians to help with lawsuits against the opioid industry launched under Hawley’s administration.

Schmitt also pushed the Missouri General Assembly to enact tougher statutory penalties against carjacking. He said the current laws didn’t do enough to deter people from stealing cars, which Schmitt noted is an especially big problem in the St. Louis metro area. That legislation is currently moving through the Legislature.

Here’s what Schmitt had to say during his record-setting sixth appearance on Politically Speaking:

  • He explained why working more closely with U.S. attorneys is helping the state get a handle on violent crime.
  • He discussed his relationship with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell.
  • With the five-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s shooting death coming up in August, Schmitt talked about the impact of his legislation overhauling municipal courts — and what the St. Louis region still needs to do in order to bridge racial and socioeconomic divides.
  • He also talk about how his office is prepared to defend a pending law banning abortion after a heartbeat or brain activity is detected. That could make the procedure unlawful after around eight weeks of pregnancy.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Eric Schmitt: @eric_schmitt

Music: “Freedom” by Rage Against the Machine

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