A report released by Auditor Tom Schweich this afternoon shows that incompetence and pay-to-play are widespread within Attorney General Chris Koster’s office. In fact, the problems were so bad that Koster’s office received the second-worst rating possible from the Auditor.
The report details numerous administrative problems—but worst of all is the appearance of pay-to-play on multi-million dollar contingency fee contracts being considered by the state. According to an analysis by the Auditor, at least 46% of the law firms with a bid proposal in front of the state have made campaign contributions to Koster totaling more than $170,000.
While Koster was receiving these contributions, he was asserting the power to veto any decision on the award of the contingency fee contract, despite the fact that state law does not allow him to do so.
Furthermore, the auditor noted a lack of standards for so-called independent experts who served on panels to award these contracts—meaning there is no way to know whether these panelists are truly independent or if they are pawns of Chris Koster.
“Most elected officials try to avoid even the appearance of impropriety—but not Chris Koster. Instead, Koster has accepted nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions from law firms that are seeking lucrative state contracts,” said Lloyd Smith, Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party. “Chris Koster wanted to have it both ways: making it look like the bidding process was independent while in reality retaining ultimate control over the result. And he might have gotten away with it if it weren’t for Auditor Schweich.”