Government & Politics

Koster campaign committee moves to limit donations, political damage

Chris Koster
Chris Koster File photo

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced sweeping changes to his contributions policy Wednesday — moves designed in part to limit damage from a New York Times story that suggested he may have improperly helped campaign donors.

Koster’s campaign committee will no longer accept contributions from any person or entity with pending litigation involving the attorney general’s office or from anyone who had their cases resolved in the previous 90 days.

The committee also will decline donations from lobbyists or lawyers who represent those entities. Koster also said he would “no longer accept gifts of any value from registered lobbyists.”

The voluntary restrictions were announced less than a month after a story in The New York Times alleging Koster’s office gave preferential treatment to companies it was investigating in exchange for campaign contributions.

Missouri Republicans reacted angrily to the story’s revelations and promised a full investigation.

Koster has strongly denied the allegations. In a statement in October, he said the story “misrepresents the facts, distorting events to create an appearance of impropriety where none exists.”

On Wednesday, Koster said he wanted to take steps “to remove even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

Koster is widely believed to be a candidate for Missouri governor in 2016. But there is no political committee in place for such an effort — instead, Missourians for Koster is the Democrat’s existing campaign committee.

Its mid-October report showed a balance of more than $2.6 million.

In his statement Wednesday, Koster said he hoped the new restrictions would convince the legislature to pursue similar conflict-of-interest limits for future campaigns.

But he stopped short of suggesting an overall cap on campaign contributions. Under current Missouri law, donors can give unlimited amounts to campaigns.

So far this year, Missourians for Koster has accepted more than 50 donations exceeding $10,000 each.

To reach Dave Helling, call 816-234-4656 or send email to dhelling@kcstar.com.

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