The Buzz

Rex Sinquefield donated $6.8 million to Missouri campaigns last week

Rex Sinquefield
Rex Sinquefield

No one has spent more money on Missouri politics in recent years than Rex Sinquefield.

It’s not even close.

Last week he dropped $6.8 million in the bank accounts of three political action committees — Missouri Club for Growth, Great St. Louis and Missourians for Excellence in Government. Since 2008, when Missouri lawmakers voted to repeal voter-imposed campaign contribution limits, Sinquefield has spent more than $45 million on donations to various candidates and committees in Missouri.

When The Star crunched the numbers to rank the largest political donors in Missouri since 2011, Sinquefield not only ranked No. 1 but spent nearly as much as the rest of the top 10 combined. That list included other wealthy individuals, labor unions and national corporations.

While most megadonors around the country focus on federal races, Sinquefield has remained local, with his deep pockets promising a seemingly endless fight over his pet causes — revamping Missouri’s education system and eliminating the state income tax.

And there’s no sign of that ending any time soon, since he’s essentially funding a slate of 2016 statewide Republican candidates and may get involved in a pair of high-profile ballot measures that could go before voters later this year.

Gubernatorial hopeful Catherine Hanaway has received $890,000 from Sinquefield and $240,000 from the Sinquefield-funded Missouri Club for Growth. Sinquefield gave lieutenant governor candidate Bev Randles $1 million, attorney general candidate Kurt Schaefer and treasurer candidate Eric Schmitt $750,000 each, and secretary of state candidate Will Kraus $100,000.

Many also expect Sinquefield to spend big to thwart a ballot measure bankrolled by the Missouri Association of Realtors that would amend the Missouri Constitution to prohibit state and local governments from imposing any new sales tax or use tax on services.

Sinquefield has long advocated for doing away with the income tax and replacing it with a higher sales tax. One of his political action committees, Grow Missouri, amended its paperwork with the Missouri Ethics Commission earlier this year to declare its opposition to the Realtors proposal.

He may also work to derail a ballot measure funded by another wealthy Missourian, Fred Sauer, that would reinstate campaign contribution limits. Sinquefield was part of a lawsuit that challenged a similar proposal in 2013 that never made it to the ballot.

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock