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Our Opinion: Schmitt a good pick for AG

Our Opinion: Schmitt a good pick for AG

November 18th, 2018 in Opinion

Gov. Mike Parson made a wise choice in selecting Eric Schmitt to be our state’s next attorney general.

On Tuesday, the governor announced Schmitt would take Attorney General Josh Hawley’s job when Hawley vacates the position to become a U.S. senator in January.

The attorney general leads an estimated 400-employee workforce. The agency serves as the chief legal advisor and chief law enforcement officer for the state. It can prosecute violations of state law, represent the state in legal disputes and issue legal advice to state agencies and the Legislature.

Schmitt, a Republican from Glendale, is the state treasurer. Prior to being elected to that post in 2016, he served as a state senator.

When Schmitt started as treasurer, the state had a D+ rating for fiscal transparency. Schmitt has worked to change that.

As we previously reported, his staff developed the Show Me Checkbook website and launched it for public use Aug. 21. It allows users to research sources of state revenue, state spending, even the state’s payroll.

“What used to take freedom of information requests (and) multiple websites to try to piece together what was actually happening — it’s all in one place right now,” Schmitt said at the time.

Schmitt comes to the attorney general’s office at a time when the office needs some stability. Hawley will be leaving the office mid-term, and some of his critics say the agency has been plagued by high turnover and low morale, according to a Tuesday St. Louis Post-Dispatch story.

The newspaper also reported “when Hawley was inaugurated, he eliminated the agency’s environmental and agricultural division, raising eyebrows among former agency attorneys who said the division dealt with some of the state’s most complicated cases.”

The Post-Dispatch reported in October that “under Hawley’s leadership, experienced litigators departed and other staffers bolted from the attorney general’s office at a steady clip, even after the so-called transition phase of his administration.”

Time will tell how Schmitt will run the office, but we like one of the first decisions he’s made: He plans to live in Jefferson City. State law requires the attorney general to reside in the Capital City, but Hawley did not move from his home in southern Boone County. After the media reported that, he leased a Jefferson City apartment.

Central Missouri Newspapers