A St. Louis-area billionaire known for lavish political donations was a force behind a failed bid to legalize medical marijuana in 2018, newly released records show.
Rex Sinquefield and his wife, Jeanne Sinquefield, gave $100,000 to Missourians for Patient Care Inc., a nonprofit the Missouri Ethics Commission says may have broken the law by failing to register as a campaign committee and disclose its donors.
In a consent order released Friday, the commission said Missourians for Patient Care Inc. took donations to help cover the costs of putting Proposition C on the ballot and then routed payments to vendors as contributions to a political action committee with a similar name.
Because those contributions listed “Missourians for Patient Care Inc.” as the contributor and the nonprofit declined to disclose its donors, supporters’ identities were hidden to the public.
But the commission said its investigation into the matter revealed “probable cause to believe” that the arrangement broke the law because the nonprofit was operating like a campaign committee and should have filed reports like one.
Officers of the nonprofit at one time included former Rep. Mike Colona, a St. Louis Democrat recently appointed as a judge, and Bradford Goette, whose LinkedIn profile shows he previously worked in the beer and convenience store industry and is now a member of the industry trade group MoCannTrade’s board of directors. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Steve Tilley, a House speaker-turned-lobbyist and vaunted adviser to the governor, was also behind the effort.
The campaign committees behind Amendment 2, which ultimately passed, and the Brad Bradshaw-backed Amendment 3, which failed, do not appear to have made similar arrangements.
Documents filed with the commission Friday show the nonprofit collected $1,434,590 in donations from Sept. 27, 2017 to Oct. 18, 2018.
Aside from the Sinquefields, major contributors include Great Saint Louis, which gave $875,000 and in 2017 counted Sinquefield advisor Travis Brown as a member of its board of directors, as well as Relax PAC, which gave $100,000 and counts Bradford Goette as its treasurer.
Proposition C would have legalized medical marijuana via statute rather than a constitutional amendment, which would have given state legislators more control over the idea than they have under the plan that ultimately passed. It would have also taxed marijuana at a lower rate and allowed local governments to ban the industry from their areas through a two-thirds vote of their residents.