It looks like Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey will face a big challenge in 2024. Bailey was appointed AG on Nov. 23, 2022, to finish the term of Eric Schmitt, who was elected to the US Senate.
One primary challenger has announced his intention to run against Bailey in 2024, Republican Will Scharf. He calls himself a “conservative activist,” saying, “there are a lot of Republicans in Missouri, but few true conservatives.”
VLT manufacturer donates to PACs that donate to Bailey
Bailey is heavily supported by lobbyist Steve Tilley. Tilley has been a heavy supporter of politicians in Missouri. His clients provide backing by way of political action committees (PACs) by transferring money to them. The PACs then cut checks to support the candidates.
Here are some of the PACs that have shown support to Bailey:
- Liberty and Justice PAC
- MO Majority PAC
- MO Growth PAC
- Missouri AG PAC
- MO C PAC
- MO Senior PAC
- Missouri Shield PAC
Bailey received $30,000 from six PACs as well as more than $10,000 from Tilly’s clients.
Torch Electronics, which manufactures the VLTs spread across Missouri gambling locations, donated $40,000 to each PAC. Warrenton Oil, which operates many of the gas stations that house VLTs, has donated $75,000.
Bailey says enforcement of VLTs should be local
Just as Schmitt did, Bailey has refused to offer an opinion on video lottery terminals (VLTs). The slots-like gaming machines operate in a gray area of the law. Hundreds of them are in convenience stores, bars and gas stations across Missouri. Bailey has said VLTs are a local law enforcement issue.
Scharf was the assistant policy director for former Gov. Eric Greitens. He started raising funds for his AG campaign near the end of 2022, well before announcing his candidacy. Scharf raised $300,000 in December 2022 alone. He said he set a quarterly fundraising record for AG candidates. The following month, Scharf contributed $500,000 out of his own pocket.
Some of Scharf’s donors include Leonard Leo, co-chairman of The Federalist Society. Leo has a past history of helping build political networks and putting conservative judges on the bench. Members of the Greitens’ administration chipped in as well, including former Campaign Manager Austin Chambers and former Deputy Chief of Staff Nick Maddux.
Two other major financial supporters of Scharf’s campaign include West Virginia’s AG, Patrick Morrisey, and billionaire hedge fund guru Paul Singer.