St. Louis businessman Sinquefield makes last minute donations to local campaigns

Friday, October 29, 2010 | 6:20 p.m. CDT; updated 2:32 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 30, 2010

COLUMBIA — A wealthy St. Louis businessman has infused $40,000 total into Rep. Chris Kelly's and Ed Robb's campaigns only a few days before the Nov. 2 election.

Kelly, a Democrat running for re-election to the state's 24th District House seat, received $25,000 from Rex Sinquefield on Wednesday. Kelly didn't expect the contribution and said Sinquefield would have to explain it himself.

"I am going to guess, in my case, that it is because I am one of the lead sponsors in the House of shifting from income to sales tax — as long as it is progressive," Kelly said.

Kelly accepted the donation but distributed it to Democratic House campaigns around the state, he said. Kelly had more than $84,000 on hand in his latest campaign finance report.

Robb, a Republican running for presiding commissioner of Boone County, said he has known Sinquefield for a long time. He received a $15,000 donation from him on Wednesday.

Robb said that he asked Sinquefield to support his campaign about a month ago and that the donation happened to come Wednesday. Robb thinks Boone County officials are overpaid and cites that as the reason for Sinquefield's donation. 

"He’s a very dedicated person," Robb said of Sinquefield. "He has very strong opinions on most issues."

Robb is also part of the Show-Me Institute, a conservative think tank that Sinquefield co-founded.

In his latest campaign finance report, Robb had about $984 on hand. His opponent, Democrat J. Scott Christianson, had about $13,000. Robb said his message leading up to next Tuesday will be similar to one he has had during the course of the campaign.

Robb wants to, among other things, expand the size of the county commission and create a citizen committee to review county salaries.

"If (voters) agree with me, that's great," he said. "I hope that they do."

Christianson said this money won't do much to influence voters in a race that depends largely on the individual candidate and his face-to-face interactions with people.

"I think Mr. Sinquefield is working all across Missouri to promote his personal agenda, and he wants to exert his influence here in Boone County," he said.

For the rest of his campaign, Christianson said he wants to continue to emphasize his positive message for Boone County. He wants to focus on promoting growth, jobs and economic development.

"We have a bright future," he said. "I don't think we can let the challenges before us now be an excuse to not plan for the future."

On election night, Robb is set to join several other Republican candidates at a watch party at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Lemone Industrial Boulevard. Christianson plans to be downtown at The Blue Note with other Democratic candidates.

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