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Columbia Missourian

Schweich taking first shot at running for office

By Alysha Love
October 25, 2010 | 8:36 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — With experience in international investigations, but no experience as an elected official, Republican state auditor candidate Tom Schweich swept into the world of campaigning, fundraising and elections — with some help from his friends.

"I always knew I wanted to do public service, but I never planned to run for office until I got into this race," Schweich said. "I was asked by some local Republicans in the St. Louis area if I would be willing to run for office because they thought I could continue my public service that way."

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Schweich has held appointed positions in federal government since 1999. He worked in the Waco investigation, for U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations and in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in the U.S. and Afghanistan.

Since he has never held an elected position, Schweich's campaign rides on his  experience with investigation, law and audits as well as endorsements from major GOP players such as Jack Danforth, John Bolton and John Ashcroft.

Danforth first met Schweich at the Bryan Cave law firm in St. Louis, where Schweich has worked since 1985. Danforth said he was impressed with the way Schweich handled significant cases at the firm, so when given the opportunity, Danforth asked him to step up as his chief-of-staff for his investigation into the Branch Davidian disaster in Waco, Texas.

"He is very smart, very well-organized and able," Danforth said. "When he takes something on, he does it right."

Schweich said he has the skills needed to be state auditor, despite the fact that he is not a certified public accountant.

Schweich's biggest campaign donor is the Friends of Peter Kinder campaign finance committee, which donated a total of $220,000 into the Schweich for Auditor account before the August primary.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's committee first donated $100,000 in December 2009, about six months after Schweich announced his decision to run for auditor. Schweich had looked into running for U.S. Senate, which would have pitted him against Republican Congressman Roy Blunt in the primary election. Kinder said he did not support Schweich for Senate but thinks he is the right man for state auditor.

"At a time when we have five-point-something billion dollars in stimulus money coming into the state, this is just the kind of person we need," Kinder said. "He's just a terrifically qualified candidate who I was proud to support."

Schweich said he wants to ensure the state's use of federal stimulus money is being appropriately audited to avoid waste and frivolous spending.

Born and raised in Missouri, Schweich headed to the East Coast for college after he graduated from Clayton High School in St. Louis. Schweich graduated with a bachelor's degree in history from Yale in 1982 and a law degree from Harvard three years later.

In 2008, Schweich began teaching as a visiting professor of law and ambassador-in-residence at Washington University. Schweich, his wife, Kathy, and his children, 18-year-old Emilie and 12-year-old Thomas Jr. live in St. Louis.