A St. Louis billionaire who earlier this year funded a nonprofit that tried to change the way Missouri universities handle sexual assault cases cut a $735,000 check on Wednesday to a political action committee supporting conservatives running for the state Senate.
The donation came from David Steward, co-founder and chairman of the IT provider World Wide Technology – one of St. Louis’ largest private companies.
Steward, a former member of the University of Missouri System Board of Curators, was included last October on Forbes’ 400 wealthiest Americans list, with a personal net worth of $3.4 billion.
His $735,000 donation on Wednesday went to CL PAC, (Conservative Leadership PAC). It is run by Jim Lembke, a former GOP state senator from St. Louis County who worked during the 2019 session for a trio of state senators who are members of the chamber’s conservative caucus – GOP Sens. Bill Eigel, Andrew Koenig and Denny Hoskins.
This year Steward has already given $150,000 to CL PAC and $150,000 to Believe in Life and Liberty PAC, which is associated with Eigel.
CL PAC’s goal, Lembke told The Star Thursday morning, is to expand membership in the Senate’s conservative caucus by supporting Republican candidates in primaries around the state.
The caucus, currently made up of six senators, nearly derailed Gov. Mike Parson’s legislative agenda during the 2019 session. The most high-profile confrontation came during the session’s final week, when the caucus staged a 28-hour filibuster of a tax incentive package for General Motors.
The GM bill ultimately won Senate approval and was signed by the governor.
“David Steward and others are interested in the work that has been accomplished by the conservative caucus in areas of life, liberty and property,” Lembke said. “The focus of CL PAC in 2020 will be on looking at Republican primaries where there are open seats to help candidates who are like minded to the conservative caucus.”
While the PAC has not yet zeroed in on any specific races, Lembke said he has spoken with several candidates. CL PAC could get involved in all six open senate races in 2020, Lembke said, if it finds candidates that share the values of the conservative caucus.
Steward garnered attention earlier this year when it was discovered that he was funding a nonprofit called Kingdom Principles.
The organization was created by Jefferson City lobbyist Richard McIntosh to push for dramatic changes to Title IX, the federal law barring sexual discrimination in education and mandating that schools set up internal systems to police sexual violence.
McIntosh, who lobbied on behalf of Steward’s company since 2000, helped craft legislation introduced by Republicans in both the House and Senate that would have changed the Title IX process to provide more protections for those accused of sexual assault or harassment.
It was later revealed by The Star that McIntosh’s son was accused and subsequently expelled from Washington University in St. Louis last year through the school’s Title IX process.
The legislation McIntosh wrote would have allowed his son to appeal the result of his Title IX hearing to the state Administrative Hearing Commission, where his mother and McIntosh’s wife, Audrey Hanson McIntosh, is the presiding and managing commissioner.
After McIntosh’s motivations were revealed, the bill’s momentum sputtered and it ultimately died.