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Trailer: 10 years after the Ferguson uprising

It’s been 10 years since Michael Brown was killed and the Ferguson Uprising that followed. To honor that history, We Live Here is returning for a special season with host Chad Davis and producer Danny Wicentowski. They reflect on some of the truths that Ferguson exposed, why there still is an open wound a decade later, and how community members continue to push for a better future.

Trailer: 10 years after the Ferguson uprising
https://www.stlpr.org/podcast/we-live-here/2024-07-11/trailer-10-years-after-the-ferguson-uprising
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Bailey cites experience in and out of office in race for Missouri attorney general

Before he became Missouri’s attorney general, Andrew Bailey served in a number of roles — including combat veteran, security guard, prosecutor and general counsel to Gov. Mike Parson.

Now, as he faces a tough Republican primary battle with St. Louis County attorney Will Scharf, Bailey is hoping that voters see his collective experience inside and outside of politics as compelling.

“I care about the state because it’s home,” Bailey said on an episode of the Politically Speaking podcast. “I got to grow up in a Missouri that enjoyed freedom, safety, prosperity. And I want my kids and your listeners’ kids and grandkids to enjoy those things as well.”

Parson appointed Bailey to his post in 2022, after Eric Schmitt was elected to the U.S. Senate. Before working for Parson, Bailey worked at the Warren County prosecutor’s office and was also the attorney for that county’s juvenile office. He said his experience in the juvenile office motivated him and his wife to become foster parents.

Bailey served as an Army officer in the Iraq War. He said being a part of that conflict gave him a unique perspective when entering Missouri’s executive branch.

“It definitely taught me the value of strong leadership, bold action and decisive action,” Bailey said. “Politicians do a lot of talking. I like to get to work, and I like to produce results. And certainly that was what was required of me on the battlefield in Iraq. And if I didn’t do my job, people were going to get hurt.”

Will Scharf, Candidate for Attorney General of Missouri , poses for a portrait outside the St.Louis Public Radio office on Thursday June 27, 2024.

Race against Scharf

Scharf, who appeared on Politically Speaking earlier this month, is giving Bailey a serious challenge, especially after national groups have poured millions of dollars into political action committees to boost his candidacy.

Among other things, Scharf has argued that Bailey is part of a Republican establishment that’s let conservative Missourians down. Bailey said Scharf’s contention is wrong.

“I’m clearly not part of a political pedigree or an establishment,” Bailey said. “I ended up in Jefferson City only because I started working with the Missouri Department of Corrections and Gov. Parson happened to see me and pulled me up to be on his staff. And so my dedication is to service and to serving the people of the state of Missouri.”

Bailey and his allies have derisively painted Scharf as “Wall Street Willy,” which alludes to the fact he was born in New York and comes from a wealthy family. Scharf said that line of criticism amounts to “silly season.”

Bailey said he’s leveling the attack because Missouri “is home for me, this is where I’m raising my kids — whereas he showed up here with a bag full of money in order to buy a political office.”

When asked whether it was hypocritical to play up how Scharf was born outside of Missouri when he also wasn’t born in the state, Bailey replied: “No, because I grew up with Missouri values in elementary school, junior high and high school here — and then moved home here when I got out of the Army.”

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and Riley Gaines, an ambassador for Independent Women's Voice, hold up a signed “Stand with Women Commitment” during a press conference on anti-trans measures on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, at the Old St. Louis Post Office Building in Downtown. In September, Bailey’s office filed a lawsuit against the Wentzville School Board saying they held discussions regarding policies around the use of bathrooms in private meetings rather than open to the public.

A high-profile record

Since taking office, Bailey has made headlines with a slew of high-profile actions — including attempting to get a judge to remove Kim Gardner as St. Louis circuit attorney.

Gardner ended up resigning before any court action, but Bailey said his work played a role in her decision to depart.

“Clearly the circumstances indicate that she resigned because of the lawsuit and because she was about to be ordered to sit for deposition and have to turn over mountains of discovery,” he said.

Bailey said that he would continue to watch out for officials who are derelict in their duties, even if they are Republicans.

“One would hope that we don’t have situations where that becomes a necessity,” Bailey said. “But when it does, we’re not afraid to act.”

Bailey has also filed a lawsuit against New York over the prosecution of former President Donald Trump over falsifying business records. He contends that “there’s a rogue prosecutor and collusive judiciary in New York that are seeking to take President Trump off the campaign trail.”

When asked why he didn’t have confidence that Trump’s case could go through the normal appellate process in New York, Bailey said: “I’m confident the case will be overturned on appeal because it never should have been brought in the first place. But the normal appeal process for an individual defendant takes 18 to 24 months and is inadequate to redress the grievances that Missourians have in the heat of a presidential campaign.”

Other topics that Bailey discussed on the program included:

The winner of the Bailey-Scharf primary will face off against Democrat Elad Gross, who is running unopposed for his party’s nomination on Aug. 6.

Bailey cites experience in and out of office in race for Missouri attorney general
https://www.stlpr.org/podcast/politically-speaking/2024-07-10/andrew-bailey-missouri-attorney-general-candidate
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Jamie Corley believes not being a lawmaker helps her Missouri secretary of state candidacy

Of the eight Republicans seeking to become Missouri’s next secretary of state, half of them entered the race at the end of the filing period.

One of those candidates, political strategist Jamie Corley, said her decision to run came after Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden dropped out.

“I looked at the candidates, and I did not see anyone who I would vote for,” Corley said.

Other Republicans seeking the nomination for secretary of state are state Sens. Mary Elizabeth Coleman and Denny Hoskins, House Speaker Dean Plocher, Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller, state Rep. Adam Schwadron, Wentzville municipal judge Mike Carter and St. Louis resident Valentina Gomez. House Rep. Barbara Phifer is the most well-known Democrat candidate who filed.

Half of the candidates are members of the Missouri legislature. Corley believes not being a state lawmaker puts her at an advantage.

“If I was a part of the last two years of nonsense in the Missouri legislature, I would be embarrassed to ask someone for a promotion, especially Missouri voters,” Corley said.

Against making it harder to amend the constitution

Corley has been involved with the secretary of state’s office due to her filing of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have legalized abortion in Missouri with limits.

Though she withdrew her amendment because there was a competing petition that also would overturn the state’s abortion ban, the initiative petition process is one of the reasons why Corley is running.

Corley disagrees with some of her fellow Republicans who believe it should be harder to amend the constitution.

“I would make sure that people know I am a secretary of state that will respond to groups and voters who want to use their constitutional right to change statutes and change the constitution,” Corley said.

Corley was a guest on St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking. Here are some of the things she talked about on the show.

  • Why she filed an initiative petition that would have overturned Missouri’s abortion ban and why her opposition to the state’s abortion ban is in step with what some other Missouri Republicans believe.
  • Her qualifications for the position, which includes her past experiences registering businesses.
  • Missouri’s early voting period, including why she doesn’t want to change it.
  • Current Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s rules on libraries and why Corley said she would have handled that situation differently.

Corley is a Missouri native and a University City resident. She is the executive director of the Missouri Woman and Family Research Fund, which is an organization centered on women’s health care and is, according to its website, “dedicated to protecting women’s healthcare access in Missouri and restoring rational, compassionate reproductive laws statewide.”

Corley previously lived in Washington, D.C., working for three members of Congress performing media duties. She also lived in San Francisco, where she worked at a think tank at Stanford.

Jamie Corley believes not being a lawmaker helps her Missouri secretary of state candidacy
https://www.stlpr.org/podcast/politically-speaking/2024-07-08/jamie-corley-missouri-secretary-state-candidate
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Missouri AG candidate Scharf says he’s the conservative outsider for the job

Over the past few months, Missouri attorney general hopeful Will Scharf became a familiar face on national news for his legal advocacy for former President Donald Trump.

Now, over the next few weeks, the St. Louis County attorney is hoping to make the case to GOP primary voters that he should replace Attorney General Andrew Bailey.

“I never really thought this was something that I would do,” Scharf said on an episode of the Politically Speaking podcast. “Friends of mine approached me about running and said that they thought it was really time to shake up Jefferson City and get more conservative outsiders, as opposed to establishment politicians and establishment people, in the office.”

Scharf was former Gov. Eric Greitens’ policy director and a former assistant U.S. attorney. Most recently, Scharf joined Trump’s appellate team and was one of several attorneys who argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning presidential immunity. The court ruled 6-3on Monday that presidents have immunity for official acts but not unofficial — and sent an election interference case back to a lower court to sort out.

“If a president walks out onto the street and shoots a man dead, he doesn’t have immunity for that,” Scharf said before the high court’s decision. “We’re not talking about private conduct. But for a president’s official acts in office, we believe that a failure by the court to recognize a broad doctrine of immunity would cripple the presidency.”

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey listens to Riley Gaines, an ambassador for Independent Women's Voice, not pictured, speak during a press conference on anti-trans measures on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, at the Old St. Louis Post Office Building in Downtown. In September, Bailey’s office filed a lawsuit against the Wentzville School Board saying they held discussions regarding policies around the use of bathrooms in private meetings rather than open to the public.

An expensive race

Since entering the race, political action committees backing Scharf have raised substantial amounts of money from people like Leonard Leo — who has played a major role in shaping the federal judiciary under GOP presidents.

Scharf said he’s “backed by big national conservative groups that are as sick and tired with Jefferson City as Missouri Republican primary voters are.”

“I haven’t heard a single person say that they think Jefferson City is doing a great job. I think Andrew Bailey is a creature of the Jefferson City establishment,” Scharf said. “And to me, that’s the core contrast in this race: continuity in Jefferson City or a break from that.”

Gov. Mike Parson appointed Bailey as attorney general after Eric Schmitt was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2022. Since taking over, Bailey has made headlines on a number of fronts — including pursuing an effort to oust Kim Gardner as circuit attorney and putting forward emergency rulesto substantially restrict hormone therapy and gender transition surgery.

Scharf said Bailey hasn’t done an effective job of litigating on behalf of the state, pointing to a recent loss at the U.S. Supreme Court over the interplay between the federal government and social media companies.

Bailey’s allies have painted Scharf as “Wall Street Willy,” a reference to Scharf being born in New York and coming from a wealthy family. Scharf dismissed those attacks as part of “silly season.”

“This place is my home. I’m proud to be an adoptive Missourian. I can’t really imagine living anywhere else,” Scharf said. 

Video gaming

If elected, Scharf said he would take a more discerning look at video gaming devices that are found in gas stations or fraternal halls all over the state.

“I think the situation that we have right now is that there are tens of thousands of illegal slot machines that are being allowed to operate that are, I believe, depriving the State of Missouri of significant revenue,” Scharf said. “I think it’s just a crazy situation. And it goes to show how when politically powerful constituencies are at work, the laws of Missouri are not being evenly enforced.”

Low-income housing tax credits

Scharf said that he would be in favor of elected officials being taken off the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which is responsible for doling out low-income housing tax credits.

The attorney general is a member of that commission along with the governor, the lieutenant governor and treasurer.

“I’d much rather see a professional staff and people who are experienced in housing and construction and finance making decisions based on what’s best for Missouri, as opposed to what’s best for their political constituencies or, frankly, their donors,” he said.

Missouri AG candidate Scharf says he’s the conservative outsider for the job
https://www.stlpr.org/podcast/politically-speaking/2024-07-03/missouri-ag-candidate-scharf-says-hes-the-conservative-outsider-for-the-job
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Missouri Treasurer Vivek Malek lays out his case for full four-year term

State Treasurer Vivek Malek’s introduction to Missouri was quite different from other statewide officials’.

Malek came to the United States from India when he was 24. When he arrived in Cape Girardeau to get a master’s degree in business administration at Southeast Missouri State University, it was about a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“And that just completely changed my world as well as I saw Americans come together in unity once that event happened,” Malek said on an episode of Politically Speaking. “And that triggered for me to go to law school and study the American Constitution, the Bill of Rights and understand more about American politics.”

Gov. Mike Parson appointed him treasurer in 2023 after Scott Fitzpatrick became state auditor. Malek is the first person of color to hold statewide office in Missouri. He’s running for a full four-year term against five other GOP candidates in the Aug. 6 primary: House Budget Chairman Cody Smith, state Sen. Andrew Koenig, Springfield resident Lori Rook, St. Joseph resident Tina Goodrick and Berkeley resident Karan Pujji.

Malek has raised the most money by far for a statewide contest that typically flies under the radar.

Vivek Malek, incoming Missouri State Treasurer, stands at a podium. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson stands to the right of him.

Gaming machine flap

Malek faced criticism earlier this year for putting decals for the state’s unclaimed property programs on gaming machines at gas stations and bars.

The so-called “gray machines” are opposed by some who contend they’re illegally skirting the state’s restrictions on gambling. The company that makes many of these machines, Torch, disputes that characterization and adds that the way the machines work makes them comply with the state’s laws.

Members of a House Appropriations subcommittee chastised Malek for placing decals on these machines. The chairman of that committee, Rep. Scott Cupps, R-Shell Knob, said on a recent edition of Politically Speaking that the decision was profoundly irresponsible, especially since it could provide the impression that the state is sanctioning the machines.

Malek said the decision to place the advertisements on the machines was part of his drive to return as much unclaimed property as possible to Missourians. He said he’s also partnered with banks and state fee offices to make people aware of the program.

But Malek also said he understands why placing them on the gaming machines in question was controversial, which is why he decided to take them off in February.

“Since this was a little hot-button issue, I decided it was not worth going through that — and maybe it’s not a sound political decision,” he said.

Malek said he will continue to be aggressive at getting unclaimed property returned as long as he’s state treasurer.

“In the year 2023, I broke every record of every past treasurer in returning money,” Malek said. “This year I broke my own record even though there’s still a week left for this fiscal year to end.”

Supporting MoBUCK$, bucking China

Other accomplishments he cites so far in office include expanding a program called MoBUCK$ that provides low-interest loans to certain businesses.

“When I became treasurer, my whole purpose was to do the job — not to get the job,” Malek said. “I have done great in my professional career and the business that I had. And now it was time for me to take some time off from my regular occupation, come to this field, and do my service as a public servant with a servant’s heart.”

Malek successfully pushed for Missouri’s pension board to divest from Chinese companies. He contends that because China has become more adversarial with the United States, it doesn’t make sense for Missouri to invest in companies there.

“I believe that we don’t want to be in a situation just like we were with Russia where all of the investments in Russia basically became zero when Russia invaded Ukraine,” Malek said.

If he wins a full four-year term, Malek will also continue to manage the Education Savings Account program. The account allows families to obtain funding to send children to the school of their choice, including private schools. The account is funded by private donors, who then receive tax credits from the state.

Malek said he’s been a big proponent of the program, which he says provides parents with more options when it comes to their kids’ education.

“This may not be the program for every school district,” Malek said. “It is just giving your kids, my kids and other kids … a choice that they can take and make their lives successful by getting a better education.”

Missouri Treasurer Vivek Malek lays out his case for full four-year term
https://www.stlpr.org/podcast/politically-speaking/2024-06-25/missouri-treasurer-vivek-malek-lays-out-his-case-for-full-four-year-term
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