After his first month in office Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt says he wants to make it one of the best in the country.
“We are focused on professionalism and the rule of law,” Schmitt told members of the working press last week. “There are a lot of great people in this office and I’ve personally met with department heads and staff members.”
Schmitt spoke during the Missouri Press Association’s Day at the Capitol Thursday, Jan. 31, stating the office is actively recruiting attorneys to work in offices all over the state.
“Essentially, we want to be the best law firm in the state of Missouri,” Schmitt said. “We have 400 people working for the attorney general’s office. We have a staff of 100 in the St. Louis office, 50 in Kansas City and 25 in the Springfield office.”
Schmitt added working for his office would be a great opportunity for young attorneys to get trial experience and they would get to work on a wide variety of cases unlike in a private law firm.
The office of state treasurer which Schmitt occupied for the past two years has just 50 employees.
The new attorney general said he is currently working with prosecutors and law enforcement leaders in St. Louis to tackle violent crimes.
“Three cities in Missouri are in the top 15 nationwide for violent crimes,” Schmitt said. “This initiative divides the city into three sections of north, south and downtown.”
When asked about St. Louis city and St. Louis County Prosecutors Kim Gardner and Wesley Bell announcing they would no longer be prosecuting minor marijuana possession crimes, Schmitt said he has not discussed that topic with them.
Early in his remarks, Schmitt said he was a supporter of law enforcement. But when the subject of how Gardner’s “blacklist” of several members of the St. Louis police department will affect the new violent crimes initiative, Schmitt said it was important to have a good working relationship with law enforcement.
“The most important part of my job is to make sure the citizens are safe,” he said. “That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be held accountable.”
After former Attorney General Josh Hawley won his bid for the U.S. Senate, Schmitt was appointed by Parson to fill that seat leaving his elected office of state treasurer vacant.
Although nearly two years away, the prospect of re-election is still on the horizon for five of the six statewide elected officials.
Schmitt wouldn’t say if he plans on running as of yet, but instead said he was very focused on the job at hand.
He did say that unlike his predecessor, now Sen. Josh Hawley, he has established residence in the capital of Jefferson City.
“The attorney general is the only state officer who is required to live in Jefferson City,” Schmitt explained. “This comes from the time of the Civil War when the state only had one lawyer. It was mandated that they he live within a day’s ride of the capital.”
Schmitt added his wife and children will still reside in St. Louis due to the children’s school schedules and will split time between the two homes.
While campaigning in 2016 and while serving as state treasurer, Schmitt has made several stops in Franklin County, including at the annual Lincoln Days dinner and a visit to a body shop in Union touting small business loans.
Only two of the six Missouri statewide officials, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Auditor Nicole Galloway have been elected to the office in which they currently reside.
Gov. Mike Parson, who was originally elected as lieutenant governor in 2016, assumed his office after the resignation of Eric Greitens in June 2018.
Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, a former state senator, was appointed to his office by Parson.
After appointing Schmitt as attorney general, Gov. Parson appointed former State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick to fill the treasurer’s position.