Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt will become the state’s new attorney general, Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday.
Schmitt will succeed Attorney General Josh Hawley, who was elected to the U.S. Senate and has announced he will resign, effective Jan. 3.
A Republican from St. Louis County, Schmitt has served as state treasurer since 2017. Before that, he spent eight years in the Missouri Senate and four years as an alderman in Glendale.
In his time as treasurer, Schmitt has been vocal in raising concerns about the pension system for state employees. He was a prominent local backer of the GOP’s 2017 tax cut plan. He revamped a state loan program designed to boost small businesses and agricultural operations.
Schmitt inherits an office that has drawn national attention for high turnover and climbing settlement costs under Hawley. Missouri paid out $35 million in settlement costs in 2018, up from $22 million combined in 2015 and 2016, the last two full years under Attorney General Chris Koster, The New York Times reports.
With Hawley at the helm, the office’s high-profile actions included challenging the Affordable Care Act, launching investigations into big technology companies like Google and Facebook, and suing pharmaceutical companies over their role in the opioid crisis.
Schmitt will become the fourth of Missouri’s six statewide elected officials to hold an office to which he was not elected. Parson, formerly the state’s lieutenant governor, became governor when former Gov. Eric Greitens resigned. Subsequently, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe was appointed to replace Parson. Additionally, Auditor Nicole Galloway was initially appointed to her post, but she won another term in this month’s election.
Now, Parson will need to appoint a new state treasurer to replace Schmitt. He declined to comment on specific candidates Tuesday but said he has already started the search process, the Columbia Missourian reports.