Wednesday an attorney for Mark & Patricia McCloskey filed two motions to have St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner disqualified from their case. The twin motions allege that Gardner used their case for campaign fundraising both before and after charges against them were filed.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner used the McCloskey case in solicitations for campaign donations before she charged the couple for pointing guns at protesters, and should, therefore, be disqualified from the case, according to a motion filed by the couple’s attorney Wednesday.
Attorney Joel Schwartz cited a July 17 campaign email in his motion, which was sent three days before his clients, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, were charged with unlawful use of a weapon.
“The July 17th email drew a direct line from the incident, which had not yet resulted in criminal charges, to Ms. Gardner’s political antagonists and from there to a call for donations to further her re-election efforts,” he wrote. “It implied that the defendant was among those ‘perpetuating a system of systemic racism and police brutality.’”
The motion filed on behalf of Mark McCloskey says the fundraising email on July 17th read as follows:
Because you are a supporter of Kim, I want to make you aware of a few late-breaking developments that are making national headlines right now.
You might be familiar with the story of the couple who brandished guns during a peaceful protest outside of their mansions.
A bit later the email added:
Instead of fighting for the millions of Americans affected by the pandemic—including 31 thousand Missourians—President Trump and the Governor are fighting for the two who pointed guns at peaceful citizens during the Black Lives Matter protests.
The email continued, “Kim needs your help to fight back! Her election is only weeks away.” and included two links to donate to Gardner’s campaign. Three days later, on July 20th, charges were filed against the McCloskeys. Here’s the fundraising email which is Exhibit A in the motion:
Two days after the charges were filed on the 20th, Gardner’s campaign sent out a 2nd email that said, “In the last 24 hours, there has been a lot of national attention surrounding Kim’s decision to press charges against a couple that brandished guns at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.” The email went on to mention threats Gardner had received and said, “This is what happens when leaders like Kim stand up against a system that elevates the privileged and powerful.” That email also included two links for donations to her campaign.
As a result of these solicitations, the motion argues that prosecutor Kim Gardner has an “interest” in the case as defined by law, meaning not only that her campaign stands to benefit financially from it but also that she is attempting to benefit politically from the case. The motion also notes that there is apparently no previous case in Missouri in which a prosecutor referenced “a pending investigation and charging decision during campaign/fundraising activities.”
As Ed pointed out yesterday, this isn’t the only allegation of improper behavior Gardner is facing days before the Democratic primary. Gardner, who was on probation for a previous ethics violation is accused of violating campaign finance laws by failing to disclose an in-kind donation from a PAC.