Kim Gardner won her election while using Mark McCloskey as a fundraising tool. She just lost in court for the same reason. A Missouri judge took the unusual step of disqualifying the prosecutor and her entire office from prosecuting McCloskey, scolding Gardner for politicizing the case (via Cam Edwards at Bearing Arms):
Gardner had argued against the motion from the defense, saying that her campaign communications were intended to rebut criticism from the governor, president, and “right wing media.” Judge Thomas Clark didn’t buy that, in large part because he read the campaign materials:
“If this is so, why mention defendants?” Clark wrote. “…If responding to her critics was the intent of the campaign solicitations, it seems reasonable that she would focus on them, not the defendants.
“This email language extends beyond campaign rhetoric. Rather, it seeks to seemingly energize supporters to contribute by referencing defendant, his conduct and even his social status…The twin fundraising solicitations paint defendant as a wealthy elitist and perhaps worse.”
Clark cited the July 17 email in which Gardner references the McCloskey home as a “mansion.” In a July 22 email, Gardner references her efforts to “stand up against a system that elevates the privileged and powerful,” and hold offenders “accountable.” …
“Ms. Gardner has every right to rebut criticism, but it appears unnecessary to stigmatize defendant – or even mention him – in campaign solicitations, especially when she purports to be responding to others,” he wrote. “In fact, the case law and Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit it.” …
“These email solicitations aim to raise money using the defendant and the circumstances surrounding the case to rally Ms. Gardner’s political base and fuel contributions.”
There’s a price for demagoguery, it seems. At least in Missouri.
The ruling only applies to Mark McCloskey and not his wife Patricia, whose trial is being conducted separately. However, the defense attorneys plan to enter Clark’s ruling into her proceedings by her next court appearance on January 15. They will ask Judge Michael Steltzer to join Clark’s ruling and toss Gardner and her office out of Patricia’s case as well. That would then require both judges to appoint special prosecutors, perhaps even separate special prosecutors, with no connection to Gardner and her office.
Cam notes the response from the defense, which couldn’t have asked for a better slap-down from Clark:
Today’s decision only adds more weight to the argument by the couple that their prosecution was politically motivated from the start, and given the fact that Gov. Mike Parson has already vowed to pardon the couple if they are convicted, there’s little need to waste taxpayer time and expense on a trial that’s based on trumped up charges in the first place.
Joel Schwartz, the McCloskeys’ attorney, says he’s hopeful that once a special prosecutor has been appointed, they’ll decide that charges weren’t warranted to begin with.
“This is what we wanted,” Schwartz said. “We would like a fair-mined prosecutor to take a look at the alleged crimes and reassess the evidence and see what they come up with because we don’t believe any of the evidence supports any of the charges. … as long as that happens, then I think we’ll have the right outcome and that would hopefully be no charges.”
One has to wonder why any prosecutor would take up this case now. Clark has made it pretty clear that this was a political hack job conducted by a political hack looking to make herself into a national star in politics. The case already stinks, and the governor’s pardon will hang like a Sword of Damocles’ Futility over everything a prosecutor would do. That, along with earlier allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, makes this case an embarrassment for anyone not named Kim Gardner. The best outcome would be a quiet dismissal, or at least as quiet as it possibly can be under present circumstances.
Cam and I will discuss this further in our VIP Gold Chat this afternoon at 1:30 ET. We’ll see you there.