“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 should be beholden solely to their 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. One good source for such information is opensecrets.org. The site points to a couple of things of note when examining the Missouri Senate race, which comes to a head in two weeks when the State will hold its primary.
Republican Roy Blunt is vacating the seat at the end of this term and, with Missouri being a reliably red state of late, the conventional wisdom is that the seat will go to whoever wins the GOP 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. As indicated in the chart below, through June, Attorney General Eric Schmitt has raised the most of the Republicans, with over $3.5 million raised, and over $1.4 million on hand. Hartzler comes next, with north of $3.3 million raised and $1.4 million on hand. Next is State Senate President pro-Tempore Dave Schatz (who is primarily self-funded), with $2.3 million raised and $1.3 million on hand. Greitens comes in fourth, with just shy of $2.1 million raised, and $350,000 on hand.
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, of course, grabbed the national spotlight following his June 2020 confrontation with BLM protestors who busted a gate and marched down the private street where his home was located. No doubt, there are Second Amendment advocates across the country who empathize with McCloskey. Ironically, both McCloskey and Greitens were targeted by uber-progressive St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner for what many view as politically-driven prosecutions. In contrast to McCloskey, though, Greitens’ relationship with guns and pro-2A issues remains murky.
Drilling down a bit more, the chart below details the amounts and percentages of in-state versus out-of-state donations for the 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. The only candidate who tops that is McCloskey, with 88.9 percent. (Note: Unlike the overall fundraising summary above, these breakdowns do not appear to include data through June.)
The top metro area contributions are also broken down for each candidate. Thus, we see that while Greitens has received $195,000 in contributions from the St. 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, on the other hand, has received the majority of her contributions from the western part of the State (which stands to reason as that is where her district is located), with about $35,000 from the Washington DC metro area.
And Schmitt, who’s also from Louis, has received the vast majority ($1.9 million) of his contributions from the St. Louis 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. A comparison of his 2016 and 2022 donors reveals that only a handful of those who supported him in 2016 continue to support him in 2022.
Per the Kansas City Star, Richard Uihlein, the billionaire CEO of Uline Corporation, figures prominently in that equation:
Greitens has struggled to raise money throughout the campaign, relying more on being bankrolled by big donors like Uihlein and Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus.
Also by the Star:
Greitens campaign plays a shell game with money, moving it between Missouri First and the G Team into his campaign. There are two PACs spending money on his behalf — Missouri First Action and the Team PAC. The Team PAC is relying on $2.5 million from Richard Uihlein and Missouri First Action which picked up $1 million from fitness influencer Andrew Frisella.
(Frisella, it should be noted, is a native Missourian.)
FEC data from the campaign’s filings also provides insight into the in-state vs. out-of-state donations. By 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.
Another note: Several of those Missouri contributions include multiple donations from the same individual. For instance, there are nine donations from “August Greitens,” his father. As the Times also notes:
His Republican competition finds their donations much closer to home. Of Schmitt’s 1,684 contributions in the same time period, 1,271 come from Missouri, a vast majority.
The same is true for Hartzler, who received 1,926 contributions from 2021-2022, with 1,321 of them coming 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. As indicated in the FEC documents linked below, the campaign has issued the following disbursements to several individuals/entities in the Trump orbit:
- $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”
Whether that will ultimately pay off is another question. One way or another, we’ll know within the next two weeks.
Greitens FEC Disbursements by Susie Moore on Scribd