Democratic state Auditor Nicole Galloway out-raised Republican Gov. Mike Parson over the last three months, reporting $545,000 compared to $316,000 for Parson.
But thanks to a quartet of mega-donors, Galloway’s fundraising haul was overshadowed by Uniting Missouri, a political action committee created by Parson allies. Unlike candidate committees, it is not subject to voter-imposed campaign contribution limits.
Uniting Missouri raised more than $1.5 million during the quarter that ended Sept. 30, with nearly half coming from retired financier Rex Sinquefield, St. Louis businessman David Steward, St. Joseph-based Herzog Contracting and Kansas attorney Michael Ketchmark.
Sinquefield cut a $250,000 check to Uniting Missouri last month, adding to the $1 million he gave the PAC last year.
Steward, through his company and a PAC he bankrolls, chipped in $175,000 last month. He donated $100,000 last year.
Herzog Contracting, which under the late Stan Herzog has been a major political contributor to GOP candidates for years, donated $250,000.
Ketchmark donated $50,000 last month, bringing his total donations to Uniting Missouri this year to $150,000.
The PAC said it has $4.3 million cash on hand, to go along with Parson’s $1.2 million.
“Our strong coalition is made up of Missourians from all across the state who support Gov. Parson’s leadership and vision, and believe we are headed in the right direction,” said Steele Shippy, the governor’s campaign manager.
Donations last month from these four donors alone out-raised Keep Government Accountable, the political action committee that is supporting Galloway’s bid for governor.
Keep Government Accountable says it collected $517,500 over the last three months. Of that total, around $320,000 came in large checks from labor unions and attorneys – two groups Missouri Democrats have historically depended on to keep up with Republican fundraising.
The committee has not yet reported its current cash on hand. It ended the quarter ending July 1 with just $20,000 in the bank.
“I’m running for governor to put Jefferson City back on the side of working families and it is clear that Missourians are ready for a new way,” Galloway said in a statement released with her fundraising totals.
Deep pockets, pet causes
No one has personally chipped in more money to help get Parson elected governor than Sinquefield.
That’s not a surprise. No Missouri donor has been more prolific over the last decade.
Since 2010, Sinquefield has donated more than $37 million to various candidates and causes in Missouri.
His deep pockets primarily serve to advance his pet causes — revamping the state’s education system and eliminating the Missouri income tax. But more recently he’s been involved in financing efforts to merge St. Louis city and county governments, along with privatizing the St. Louis airport.
Raised in a St. Louis area orphanage, Sinquefield received his MBA at the University of Chicago in 1972. He made his fortune after founding the money management firm Dimensional Fund Advisors.
He retired in 2005 and returned to Missouri. Since then, he has donated millions through the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation to various causes, including a music composition program at the University of Missouri in Columbia and the St. Vincent Home for Children, the orphanage where he grew up.
But it is in the political realm where Sinquefield’s money has gotten the most attention.
In 2016, he essentially funded a slate of Republican candidates for statewide office. Only one emerged victorious—Eric Schmitt, who went on to become Missouri Treasurer.
Schmitt was appointed attorney general in January, after Josh Hawley resigned to take a seat in the U.S. Senate. A political action committee supporting Schmitt, called MO Opportunity PAC, has gotten $500,000 this year from Sinquefield.
While the lion’s share of his donations go to Republicans, he has occasionally given to Democrats, like his $22,000 donation last year to the pro-Galloway group, Keep Government Accountable.
Additionally, Sinquefield employs an army of lobbyists, underwrites think tanks and funds right-leaning campaign committees.
“Rex Sinquefield loves the State of Missouri like a father loves his son or daughter,” said Travis Brown, a spokesman for Sinquefield. “His political contributions are guided by the philosophy of ensuring that Missouri’s economic and educational freedoms are greater tomorrow than they are today. For whom much has been given, much is also to be expected.”
Rape and incest
While Parson has won the support of most of Missouri’s mega donors, one name is noticeably missing: Joplin businessman David Humphreys.
Humphreys is the only other Missouri donor to come close to Sinquefield’s largesse.
Since 2010, Humphreys and his family have donated roughly $20 million to mostly Republican candidates and committees in the state.
But this year he’s made only two donations: $25,000 to Next Gen GOP PAC and $1 million to the Committee to Protect the Rights of Victims of Rape & Incest.
The second donation likely explains why Humphreys hasn’t jumped on board the governor’s 2020 campaign.
The Republican-dominated Missouri General Assembly, made up of many legislators Humphreys has supported in the past, approved a wide-ranging bill earlier this year aimed at restricting access to abortion.
Among its many provisions, the bill criminalized any abortion beyond eight weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of medical emergencies. Doctors who perform abortions after eight weeks face five to 15 years in prison.
It included no exemptions for rape or incest, a fact that inspired Humphreys’ outspoken opposition.
He called on Parson to veto the bill. When he would not, Humphreys pledged to bankroll efforts to repeal the law, saying it does nothing to protect “women and underage minors who are the victims of rape and incest.”
The constitutionality of the law is currently being challenged in court.
A spokesman for Humphreys did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether he is considering supporting Parson’s run for governor next year.