JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The first order of business for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office with new leadership at the helm will be personal, said the state’s new chief legal officer.
In the lobby of the Missouri Supreme Court building, Eric Schmitt was sworn in Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Zel Fischer as the state’s 43rd attorney general.
Elected state treasurer in 2016, he was appointed by Gov. Mike Parson to the post in November. Schmitt is replacing Josh Hawley, who was sworn in as a U.S. Senator on Thursday. Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick is set to fill the now-vacant office of state treasurer on January 14, 2018.
“The first order of business is personal,” said Schmitt. “All I’m doing is recruiting.”
He has already named some top aides to the office of roughly 300 employees. Two former U.S. prosecutors — Cristian Stevens and Tom Albus — will serve as deputy attorney general for criminal litigation and first assistant attorney general, respectively. Schmitt noted he has a few more top recruits to announce in the coming weeks.
“This will be an office were we value professionalism, and we are going to treat everyone fairly. That will be the hallmark,” said Schmitt.
On the topic of policy changes or how the office would be run, he was mum on the subject. Schmitt didn’t offer any specifics on how the office would be run differently than under the leadership of Hawley, just noting he plans to focus on professionalism.
In his speech, Schmitt did specific reference gang violence, Medicaid fraud, human trafficking, the opioid epidemic, and fraud schemes.
“People deserve to feel safe,” he said. “My job, my duty is to protect Missourians, and I’ll work hard every single day to do just that.”
He did show an interest in addressing perceived injustices in the criminal justice system, improving the traffic stop report data collected, and supporting local prosecutors.
“But, more than anything, my job is to represent all 6 million Missourians,” said Schmitt.
Watch the full ceremony below:
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.