“Follow the money” may be a famous movie line — but it’s also a rational approach to candidate vetting. Ideally, someone who’s running for office is doing so with a servant’s heart and, though dependent on financial contributions to fund their campaign (a simple reality in modern-day politics), isn’t beholden to donors once they take office — an elected official ShouldBeholden only to the constituents.
Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world, so it’s worthwhile to scrutinize candidates’ finances when attempting to determine which of them will best represent your district, state, etc. Opensecrets.org is a good place to find such information. This site highlights a few things to note about the Missouri Senate race. It will be a hot topic in the next two weeks, when it holds its primary.
The seat is being left vacant by Republican Roy Blunt at the close of the current term. Missouri is known for its redness and the consensus is that it will be won by the GOP candidate in the primary. The caveat here is that former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, considered one of the top three contenders for the seat per polling, doesn’t fare as well in head-to-head matchups against the top Democratic candidates, likely due to the not-insignificant load of baggage he lugs with him.
In addition to polling, and while we wait to see who President Trump will endorse in the race — we know definitively it won’t be Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler — we can take a look at the candidates’ fundraising. The chart shows that Attorney General Eric Schmitt raised more than $3.5 million and had over $1.4million in hand through June. Hartzler is next with $3.3 million in raised funds and $1.4million on hand. State Senate President pro Tempore Dave Schatz is next, with $2.3 million in raised funds and $1.3 million in hand. Greitens is fourth with $350,000 in hand and just under $2.1million raised.
It’s also instructive to take a look at where those funds are coming from — the donations are broken down geographically, as well as by contributor. Looking at the graph below, it’s apparent that for three of the candidates, most of their contributions have come from out-of-state: Lucas Kunce (Democrat), Eric Greitens, and Mark McCloskey.
McCloskey’s June 2020 encounter with BLM protestors led to him being in the forefront of national attention. He broke down a gate and marched along the street that was his residence. There are Second Amendment supporters across America who sympathize with McCloskey. Kim Gardner, a progressive St. Louis Circuit attorney who is known for her politically driven prosecutions of McCloskey and Greitens, was ironic in that both McCloskeys and Greitens were the targets. In contrast to McCloskey, though, Greitens’ relationship with guns and pro-2A issues remains murky.
The chart below shows the percentages and amounts of out-of state donations to candidates. Schmitt’s in-state donations account for 77.9 percent of his fundraising, and Hartzler’s account for 74.4 percent of hers. The only candidate with a higher percentage of in-state donations is Schatz (which stands to reason, given that he’s a state legislator without a national profile).
In contrast, 77.8 percent of Greitens’ donations are from out-of-state. McCloskey with 88.9% is the candidate that tops this list. These breakdowns don’t appear to show data beyond June, as opposed to the summary of overall fundraising.
For each candidate, the contributions to the most prestigious metro areas are broken down. Thus, we see that while Greitens has received $195,000 in contributions from the St. Louis area (where he’s from), he’s received more than that — over $240,000 — from the Los Angeles-Long Beach, California, and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, Florida metro areas (combined).
Hartzler has, however, received most of her contributions from western Pennsylvania (which is understandable as her district is there). She also got about $35,000 from Washington D.C.’s metro.
And Schmitt, who’s also from St. Louis, has received the vast majority ($1.9 million) of his contributions from the St. Louis metro area, with north of $520,00 from the remainder of the state, and roughly $74,000 from out-of-state (West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, Florida).
So, who are these out-of-state donors helping fund Greitens’ campaign? For one thing, they aren’t the same donors who supported him in 2016. An analysis of 2016 and 2022 donations shows that only few donors who helped him in 2016 still support him.
According to the Kansas City Star Richard Uihlein is the billionaire chief executive officer of Uline Corporation.
Greitens was unable to raise funds throughout the campaign and relied more heavily on big donors such as Bernie Marcus, founder of Home Depot, and Uihlein.
The Star also:
Greitens’ campaign is a shell game, taking money from Missouri First to move it into his campaign. There are two PACs spending money on his behalf — Missouri First Action and the Team PAC. Team PAC relies on Richard Uihlein’s $2.5million and Missouri First Action’s $1 million donation from Andrew Frisella, a fitness influencer.
It is important to note that Frisella should also be noted It isA native Missourian.
FEC data from the campaign’s filings also provides insight into the in-state vs. out-of-state donations. The Missouri Times
Of Greitens’ 3,184 contributions from 2021-2022, just 453 of them come from Missouri, according to the Federal Election Commission. That’s good for about 14% of his contributions coming from Missouri.
Note: Many of these Missouri donations include multiple contributions from one individual. For instance, there are nine donations from “August Greitens,” his father. According to the Times:
His Republican rivals find their contributions closer to home. Of Schmitt’s 1,684 contributions in the same time period, 1,271 come from Missouri, a vast majority.
Hartzler also received 1,926 donations from 2021-2022. 1 321 contributions came from Missouri.
The bottom line is that the vast majority of Greitens’ donations are coming from out of state, rather than from Missourians.
The campaign’s expenditures are also can also be found via the FEC filings. As we’ve noted previously, a Donald Trump endorsement in this race is highly sought after. While he’s ruled out Hartzler, with two weeks to go, he may yet decide to weigh in.
A review of the Greitens campaign’s expenditures indicates they’re hoping to curry some favor with 45. The FEC documents below show that the Trump campaign issued these disbursements:
- $2,500 to The Kerik Group (Bernard Kerik – former NYC Police Commissioner, pardoned by Trump) for “Strategy Consulting”
- $10,000 to KGT Global Consulting, LLC (Kimberly Guilfoyle – fiancée of Don, Jr., and national co-chair of Greitens’ campaign) for “Fundraising Consulting”
- $35,000 to Conservative Strategies, Inc. (Taylor Budowich – former Trump spokesperson) for “Strategy Consulting” and “Communication Consulting”
- $50,000 to Solgence, LLC (Steven Cheung – former Trump Senior Communications Advisor) for “Fundraising Consulting” and “Communication Consulting”
- $67,500 to Georgetown Advisory (Boris Epshteyn – Special Assistant to President Trump) for “Fundraising Fees,” “Fundraising Consulting,” and “Strategy Consulting”
It’s not certain if it will work out. One way or another, we’ll know within the next two weeks.
Greitens FEC Disbursements by Susie Moore on Scribd