Government & Politics

Missouri Gov. Greitens’ nonprofit attacks St. Joseph senator, a fellow Republican

Gov. Eric Greitens has been one of Sen. Rob Schaaf’s regular targets this session.
Gov. Eric Greitens has been one of Sen. Rob Schaaf’s regular targets this session.

Gov. Eric Greitens’ nonprofit is running digital ads attacking a fellow Republican who has been highly critical of the governor’s use of dark money.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, a St. Joseph Republican, has been a thorn in the side of Senate leadership and the governor all year. He’s repeatedly helped grind Senate proceedings to a halt, derailing debate as he criticizes a lack of progress on ethics reform and a pending statewide expansion of Medicaid managed care he thinks is unconstitutional.

Greitens, a Republican, has been one of Schaaf’s regular targets. Schaaf has slammed the governor for his reliance on dark money — campaign donations routed through nonprofits to conceal where the money came from — and publicly questioned his ties to Centene, one of three companies that received a lucrative managed care contract last year.

Centene was among several corporations that helped pay for the governor’s inaugural festivities.

A New Missouri Inc., a nonprofit founded in February by some of the governor’s campaign staff, has begun running digital ads urging Missourians to call Schaaf and tell him to “stop siding with liberals.”

As a nonprofit, A New Missouri is not required to disclose its donors and does not have to abide by campaign contribution limits.

“Politician Rob Schaaf is siding with liberals in the Senate against conservatives,” the group alleges in the ad. “He is attempting to shut down all conservative action in the Senate because of personal political games that he is playing along with the liberals.”

Another ad, which is posted on Twitter, accuses Schaaf of “blocking term limits.” Voters imposed term limits on the legislature in 1994. Term limits also apply to the governor and state treasurer. They do not apply to the lieutenant governor, attorney general or auditor.

Both ads include Schaaf’s cellphone number. Friday afternoon, he tweeted that his voicemail was overwhelmed.

“I’m saddened that the governor lacks the courage to confront me directly but rather relies on his dark money donors to impugn my stands for liberty and the downtrodden, and against corruption,” Schaaf told The Star Friday morning.

Schaaf has sponsored legislation aimed at forcing dark money organizations to disclose their donors. So far it has not received a hearing.

Austin Chambers, the governor’s senior adviser, said in an email Friday to The Star that A New Missouri Inc. began targeting Schaaf because “ important pieces of reform are being held up because Sen. Schaaf is playing personal political games.”

The governor isn’t the only one criticizing Schaaf for his delay tactics in the Senate.

Members of the Missouri House, worrying that a host of legislative priorities will die because the Senate is stuck in gridlock, have begun publicly condemning Schaaf.

On Thursday, the House voted down a bill partially because Schaaf was its Senate sponsor. Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, an Odessa Republican, made that point clear while debating the bill on the House floor.

“Mr. Speaker, with everything going on in the Senate,” he said, “why are we helping forward anything on the senator from St. Joe’s agenda?”

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock