Eric Schmitt spent nearly $20,000 at Mar-a-Lago while pursuing his bid to be Missouri’s next U.S. senator. Proponents for legal weed spent six figures on legal fees. And a GOP challenger for Emanuel Cleaver’s seat in the U.S. Congress raised a mere $33. Those are some of the nuggets included in new Missouri campaign finance filings this week, as candidates for federal and statewide races revealed who spent what and who is supporting whom in the final weeks leading up to the election.
Few races for state offices are competitive this year, thanks to Republican-led redistricting efforts that have turned most congressional and legislative districts into safe zones for one party or another. Less competitive races usually garner less spending.
Candidates in federal races, like the U.S. Senate and House, filed quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission. Campaign committees for statewide candidates and ballot measures also had to file reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission, the agency tasked with monitoring campaigns and their finances in the state.
Campaigns will have to file one more report before the Nov. 8 general election.
Here’s what’s inside some of those spending reports for the last quarter.
Amendment 3 — Recreational marijuana
Amendment 3 is a constitutional amendment that made it onto the ballot through an initiative petition. The measure would legalize adult-use recreational marijuana, expunge some nonviolent marijuana-related convictions and help transition already operating medical marijuana facilities and dispensaries to the recreational market.
According to the amendment language, 80% of dispensaries currently operating in the state would be able to transition their licenses into recreational licenses.
The PAC supporting the amendment, Legal Missouri 2022, raised $629,000 from dispensaries and their associated LLCs around the state. Some groups have given hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations so far, like the St. Louis-based chain New Growth Horizon, which has donated $447,000 to the efforts since the beginning of the election cycle.
Organic Remedies, a Pennsylvania-based medical marijuana company that opened medical storefronts in Missouri in 2021, has donated more than $300,000.
Legal Missouri 2022 paid at least $35,000 in consulting fees. It also paid Ellinger and Associates, a law firm in Jefferson City, more than $50,000 for legal fees from August through September.
St. Louis-based Ketcher Law Firm received an additional $80,000 from Legal Missouri for legal fees during this period.
So far this year, the PAC has raised $5.6 million and spent $6.2 million.
A group called Constitutional Conservatives PAC spent nearly $900 opposing the measure, while the Crawford County Democratic Committee Club spent nearly $800 supporting it.
Amendment 4 — KCPD funding mandates
Amendment 4 asks Missourians to allow the legislature to require a city to increase funding minimums for police departments. The measure would apply only to Kansas City, which is one of few cities in the nation with a minimum funding requirement put in place by the state legislature.
There has been minimal spending to support or oppose the measure, but some groups have formed to voice opposition or support. One group, called the No on 4 Committee, filed campaign finance reports opposing the measure but did not have fundraising or spending to report.
Another group, Missourians for Safer Streets filed reports in support of the amendment, but had no fundraising or spending to report.
Eric Schmitt’s candidate political action committee, Schmitt for Senate, raised $1.3 million for the reporting period and is heading into the election with $1.2 million cash on hand.
The PAC, which has donation limits of $5,800, received donations from individuals, not political spending groups or corporations. It spent just under $1.3 million, including $19,000 for food and beverages at a fundraising event at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s golf club in Palm Beach, Florida.
A super PAC supporting Schmitt, Save Missouri Values, had just under $2 million cash on hand at the beginning of the campaign finance filing quarter, which ran from July 14 to Sept. 30. The group spent $2.3 million during that period, and about $6.1 million since January. Super PACs are only allowed to spend independently for or against candidates.
Much of that spending was on ad buys, many of which were placed during the primary with the purpose of bolstering Schmitt’s candidacy against primary opponent and current 4th District Rep. Vicky Hartzler. The group spent more than $1.2 million on ads opposing Hartzler’s candidacy, according to the filings.
At the end of the filing period, the group had $208,000 cash on hand.
Save Missouri Values, which has no limits on how much money it can raise, took in just under $510,000 from some heavy-hitting donations, including $100,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and another $100,000 from the CEO of World Wide Technology, a technology solutions company headquartered in St. Louis. The PAC received a $75,000 donation from Robert Low, the CEO of Prime Inc., a Springfield-based trucking company.
Trudy Busch Valentine, the Democratic candidate in the Senate race, began the reporting period with just under $700,000 cash on hand.
The campaign raised around $919,000 in the period, and about $288,000 of those donations were unitemized, meaning they were less than $200. Busch Valentine also lent herself $3.4 million during the filing period, bringing the total of what she has donated to her heavily self-funded campaign to $6.4 million.
Her PAC spent about $4.6 million through the filing period, mostly on things like print and television advertising or campaign consulting.
U.S. House District 4
In the 4th U.S. House District, former Kansas City TV anchor Mark Alford is coasting to Congress in this heavily Republican district that comprises the southern metro area and central parts of the state.
Alford raised $1.1 million during the period and spent around $245,000. He ended the reporting period with $94,000 cash on hand.
U.S. House District 5
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II is running for reelection in the heavily Democratic 5th Congressional District.
His PAC raised $180,000, much of it from donations from other political action committees. For instance, Cleaver has received $10,000 this cycle from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC. He also received $1,500 from the National Apartment Association PAC, and a total this cycle of $10,000 from Blackrock Capital PAC, one of the nation’s top banking institutions.
The candidate’s PAC spent $258,000 this cycle, mostly on things like fundraising fees, voter outreach and event expenses.
On the Republican side, Jacob Turk is running to unseat Cleaver.
Missouri state Senate District 8
In the 8th state Senate district, in parts of Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit, incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Cierpiot is running against political newcomer Antoine Jennings.
After a competitive primary, Cierpiot raised $25,000 during the period and spent $7,200. He raised $2,400 from Evergy Power PAC, the utility provider’s political spending group, and $2,400 from the Missouri Realtors PAC.
He started the period with $18,000 cash on hand and ended with $35,700 left in the bank.
On the Democratic side, Jennings raised $1,500 and spent $2,000.
Missouri state Senate District 34
Incumbent Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer is running for reelection in Platte County’s 34th state Senate district.
Luetkemeyer raised just under $100,000 in the quarter. Donations included $2,400 each from the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police’s political action committee and the St. Louis Police Officers Association PAC. In the legislature last spring, Luetkemeyer spearheaded efforts to force Kansas City to raise its threshold for funding for the police department.
The Evergy Power PAC also donated $2,400 to Luetkemeyer’s campaign. He spent $25,000 during the period, including $11,000 to Remington Research, a GOP pollster.
Sarah Shorter, the Democrat running in the heavily Republican 34th District, raised $5,500 during the period, thanks to two donations from a Democratic PAC called It Starts Today, which is a subscription-based donation process that gives money to Democratic candidates running in smaller races.