Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft should ask David Minnick, the state’s new securities commissioner, to resign.
Ashcroft appointed Minnick to the post earlier this month. Minnick, a lawyer, served for more than a decade as general counsel and senior vice president of Stifel Financial Corp. in St. Louis. The company buys and sells stocks and bonds for clients.
As The Star first reported, though, Missouri’s securities division has investigated Stifel several times over the years and is scrutinizing the company now. That means Minnick is overseeing the investigation of the company where he worked for 12 years.
Ashcroft, a newly elected Republican, sees nothing wrong with this. “The citizens of this state need people like David to serve the public in state government,” he said in a statement Monday. “His reputation is excellent. He has integrity and is honest.”
The statement misses the point. Missourians must have absolute confidence in the securities division, which is charged with protecting the state’s investors from fraud. That confidence is damaged when a player becomes a referee in the middle of the game.
Democrats have predictably pounced. Some Missouri House Democrats have introduced legislation prohibiting any secretary of state from appointing someone as securities commissioner if the nominee has been associated with a company facing investigation within the previous year. That sounds like a pretty good idea.
Elections have consequences, and heads of executive departments should generally be free to pick members of their teams. Ashcroft is no different.
Surely, though, there’s another Republican in Missouri with the credentials and intelligence to help protect Missouri investors from fraud. Ashcroft should look harder to find him or her, and then ask Minnick to step aside.