The Missouri Times sat down with State Auditor Thomas Schweich for an in-depth Q&A. For the ease of our readers, we have broken the interview into three parts, dividing the topics of conservation accordingly.
TMT: With your anti corruption background, what did you make of Gov. Nixon’s implication that lifting campaign limits elicits corruption?
Schweich: If campaign contribution limits could be passed in a manner that is fair to all sides, I’d support it. Here’s the problem with what is being proposed now. If you, for example, limit what you can contribute to a statewide official, all that will happen is that the money will go to the Super PAC’s, and then you’ll have people running that have no control over the message that is coming out. It’ll just divert the money somewhere else. The other thing you’ll have is the union’s and the trial lawyers, nobody is talking about limiting what they can bundle together, and so there is an obvious benefit to Democrats over Republicans, and they know that. They say it’s ethics, but it’s an effort to gain a competitive advantage.
TMT: Do you support paycheck protection?
Schweich: Yes, definitely.
TMT: Bonding is coming down the pipe from the legislature, as Auditor, what are your thoughts on some of those?
Schweich: Well I sit on some of those boards so I should see what those proposals look like before I comment. I’m not going to talk about that right now.
TMT: Do you audit low income and historic preservation tax credits?
Schweich: We’re doing low income now, which will be released at the end of the year. Historic was done before I got here, and it will be done again. We’re also doing the Brownfield tax credit as well.
TMT: What’s the timeframe on when they might be complete?
Schweich: A lot of an audit is out of our control. The level of cooperation with the subject of the audit determines how long it takes. We give them an opportunity to review and comment on it, that can take a long time. My objective is to have both of those out this year.
TMT: Speaking of the State of the State, you were a little lonely in the row you were sitting in. What does the Republican Party need to do to win statewide elections as you have?
Schweich: Well I’m going to talk a little more about that at Lincoln Days and give my full view on it then. Number one, you have to admit you have a problem. Some of the stuff coming out of the party after November, it was like they thought we won a resounding victory. We did get veto proof majorities in both Houses, which is great. Most of the ones I’ve spoken to say it wasn’t the party that got them elected. I think the purpose of the state party is to win statewide and we lost five out of six statewide elections. So let’s admit we have a problem, and all I saw was rosy discussion about having a good year. I didn’t see a good year. When the top of the ticket wins by 10 points and you lose 5 of 6, then that is a failure. But why was it a failure? On a national level the party is struggling to appeal to minorities and young people. But on the state level we have to make sure we have highly qualified candidates who are well vetted and good on the campaign stump. Some candidates had shortcomings in that area. They weren’t in the right race or shouldn’t have been running at all.
TMT: 2014. You plan to seek reelection?
Schweich: I haven’t made any announcements yet, but I’m leaning in that direction.
Schweich: I’m assuming so, unless that whole thing with the Lt. Governor transpires.
TMT: Do you like running for office?
Schweich: I like being in office and I like meeting people on the campaign trail. What I don’t like is the despicable lack of integrity that so many people exhibit when you run for office. Whether it’s the crazy things they come up with or the things way off base. They tried to characterize me in the race as “pro illegal immigration.” Somebody said I’d endorsed Barack Obama, somebody said I threw something at somebody at an event I wasn’t even attending. It’s dealing with the cannibalistic attitude some Republicans have, trying to destroy each other with anything but the truth. But I’m a fighter. I fought as a prosecutor, I fought as an anti-narcotics official, I fought hard as an anti-corruption official, I’m up for a fight, I just wish we didn’t have to have so many in the party.
TMT: Do you have passion for the people in the state?
Schweich: Unbelievable passion, that’s what makes it worth it. You don’t hear in the media about when I go to the city of Diamond, or Clarksdale, or Indian Pointe or Mountain Grove or Pacific and these people have put a petition together for an audit and I personally deliver the results of that audit at a town hall meeting. The level of appreciation these people have for you helping them clean up the government, expose fraud and waste, and constructive suggestions. People are so appreciative, and nobody sees that outside of those communities and it’s the most rewarding part of the job.