Who’s Behind Winning For Missouri Education, The MO Sports Betting PAC?

Written By Phil West on March 13, 2024
A picture of the curtain being pulled back for a story about who runs the PAC in charge of the Missouri sports betting ballot initiative.

With four bills in the legislature and a ballot initiative crafted by the state’s pro sports franchises, Missouri has several avenues for sports betting legalization.

The bills have a traditional legislative path forward. However, the ballot initiative requires leg work. Someone needs to gather signatures and submit them to the state for verification.

Missouri’s pro sports franchises were behind the initiative. But they aren’t the ones doing the work on the ground. Instead, a political action committee is handling those efforts.

In recent months, a PAC called Winning for Missouri Education has been behind the day-to-day efforts of the Missouri sports betting ballot initiative. Thus far, the group has collected more than 100,000 signatures. They are more than halfway to the 180,000-signature benchmark to get the issue on the ballot this fall.

Who is actually behind the PAC?

It’s not clear how big of a role they will have in the process. But two people associated with the PAC are no strangers to Missouri politics. Furthermore, two major players in the online sports betting industry are backing the efforts.

Organizers officially formed Winning for Missouri Education on Jan. 4 after filing paperwork with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Mike Pridmore is the treasurer and sole officer listed on the application. Pridmore’s LinkedIn profile shows more than 15 years of experience as a campaign manager and financial consultant for Missouri political candidates and PACs.

Additionally, Pridmore’s current affiliations include another PAC called Majority Forward. The group is focused on electing more Democrats to the Missouri State Senate. Pridmore also works with the PAC Citizens for Jake Zimmerman, a group helping Zimmerman secure reelection as St. Louis County Assessor.

Jack Cardetti deals with the press

Winning for Missouri Education PAC also has a spokesperson. Despite not being listed on the application, Jack Cardetti has been cited as a spokesperson for the group in several local news reports.

Cardetti is part of Tightline Public Affairs. According to his bio page on Tightline’s website, he spent “nearly two decades as a spokesman and strategist for stat and federally elected officials.”

Cardetti also associates himself with several notable Missouri legislative victories. Per the Tightline website:

“In the 2018 election cycle, Cardetti served as communications consultant for the defeat of Right-to-Work, with 67 percent of Missouri voters opposing Proposition A. In that same cycle, Cardetti also led the historic effort to approve medical marijuana in Missouri, steering 66 percent of the vote for Amendment 2 while defeating two other competing medical marijuana ballot initiatives. He also helped design and deliver the messaging that in 2018 helped pass the first comprehensive energy bill through the Missouri legislature in more than a decade.”

DraftKings and FanDuel fund the efforts

Missouri state law dictates PACs must disclose their finances. The state requires transparency with both donations and expenditures.

As a result, we know that DraftKings and FanDuel contributed $3 million to the PAC’s efforts since launch. Last week, DraftKings added $500,000 to up the total contributions to $3 million.

For now, the money is being used for the signature-gathering process. But if the group succeeds in reaching the necessary total, the remainder will likely be used for advertising to generate support for the initiative. It will cost millions to run a public relations campaign of that magnitude.

Photo by PlayMissouri
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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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