Show Me the Money: Missouri’s high-dollar primaries and the businesses behind them

Before Tuesday’s primary elections in Missouri, more than $23.3 million was funneled into campaign coffers — and that was just in one race.

That particular primary, the four-way contest to determine the Republican nominee for governor, has drawn the most funding of any Missouri race for statewide office. But it’s far from the only contest in which candidates have seen sizable cash inflows.

Missouri has five primaries in which two or more candidates from the same party have raised at least $500,000, according to Missouri Ethics Commission filings from July 25. Beyond the GOP gubernatorial primary, the state’s other “big-money” primaries are the Democratic campaign for attorney general and the Republican races for attorney general, lieutenant governor and treasurer.

And that list doesn’t even include Missouri’s top individual fundraiser: Attorney General Chris Koster, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for governor, who has raised more than $15.7 million, while his three Democratic opponents have raised less than $3,000 combined.

The interactive graphic below offers a look at the five statewide primary campaigns in which multiple candidates have raised more than a half-million dollars.

Many candidates in these big-money contests and other Missouri races have been buoyed by businesses. Missouri Business Alert conducted an analysis of data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which provides a breakdown of the top corporate contributors to Missouri campaigns. The institute’s data reflects totals as of April quarterly reports, so the picture it paints is incomplete but nevertheless instructive.

At the top of the list was McKinley Financial Partnership, a Michigan-based real estate management company that has backed Eric Greitens, the former Navy SEAL and Republican governor hopeful. Noranda, the Tennessee-based aluminum company that lodged an unsuccessful campaign to win lower utility rates so it could keep open its smelter in southeast Missouri, was No. 2 on the list. Ameren, Missouri’s largest utility company — and the power provider for Noranda’s shuttered plant — was third on the list, followed by St. Louis-based brewer Anheuser-Busch.  

The Money in State Politics database was also mined to produce lists of the top individuals and special-interest groups funding Missouri’s elections. (Again, data are from April quarterly filings.)

John Brunner, the St. Louis businessman seeking the Republican nomination for governor, led the list of individual donors thanks to his contributions to his own campaign. Following Brunner were two families of prolific political donors. St. Louis financier Rex Sinquefield and his wife, Jeanne Sinquefield, occupied the next two spots on the list. Joplin businessman David Humphreys and his mother, Ethelmae Humphreys, rounded out the top five.

Another out-of-state contributor to the Greitens campaign, the Michael L. Goguen Trust, topped the list of special-interest groups funding Missouri’s 2016 election. Greitens’ opponents have called on him to return that money after Goguen, a California businessman, was accused in a lawsuit of sexual abuse.

A final pair of graphics culled from the Money in State Politics database offers a picture of the types of campaigns attracting the most cash as of the April quarterly report.

Republican candidates had cumulatively raised twice as much as Democratic hopefuls, and races for open seats had drawn more than two-thirds of Missouri’s campaign contributions, far outpacing races that involved an incumbent.

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