Chris Koster

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Chris Koster
Chris Koster.jpg
Attorney General of Missouri
In office
2009 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 6
PredecessorJay Nixon (D)
Base salary$116,437
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Next generalNovember 8, 2016
Campaign $$10,393,583
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
Missouri State Senate
Bachelor'sUniversity of Missouri-Columbia (1987)
Master'sWashington University in St. Louis (2002)
J.D.University of Missouri-Columbia (1991)
Date of birthAugust 31, 1964
Place of birthSt. Louis, Missouri
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Chris Koster (born August 31, 1964, in St. Louis, Missouri) is the current Democratic Attorney General of Missouri. He was first elected to the statewide executive position in 2008 and recently won re-election on November 6, 2012.[1]


Two years following his graduation from law school, Koster served as an assistant to the Attorney General of Missouri. He remained in that position until 1993 when he joined the Kansas City-based private firm of Blackwell Sanders where he practiced law for nearly a year. In 1994, Koster was elected as Prosecuting Attorney for Cass County, Missouri. He was subsequently re-elected to the position in both 1998 and 2002. His main responsibility as the county's prosecutor was to supervise a staff of up to twenty individuals who served as the civil counsel for all non-criminal matters before the county government.

  • Member, Belton Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Belton-Raymore Rotary Club
  • Board Member, Hope Haven Women's Shelter
  • Board of Directors, Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
  • Member, Anti-Terroism Task Force, United States Attorney Bioterrorism Task Force
  • Board Member, Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission


  • Bachelor's degree, University of Missouri - Columbia (1987)
  • Juris Doctorate degree, University of Missouri - Columbia (1991)
  • Master's degree, Washington University in St. Louis (2002) in business administration

Political career

Missouri Attorney General (2008-Present)

Koster defeated Mike Gibbons (R) in the November 4, 2008 election to become attorney general.

Cigarette tax

On April 5, 2012, the Kansas City Star published an op-ed piece written by Koster in which he presented a case for raising Missouri's tax on cigarettes. He asserted that the amount of money collected by the state from its 17 cents/pack tax pales in comparison to the tax burden imposed on the public by aggregate Medicaid costs resulting from the treatment of cigarette related-health problems. Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax among the 50 states, its rate when the op-ed appeared was established almost 20 years prior; Missouri also ha the second highest smoking rate per capita in the country at the time.[2]

In the article, Koster urged the Missouri General Assembly "to give Missourians a chance to vote on a moderate cigarette tax increase," and to make a sensible exception to the popular aversion to raising taxes amid a struggling economy. He proposed hiking the tax from 17 to 73 cents per pack, which would raise revenue by $400 million. The extra revenue would allow the state to address its overwhelming smoking-incurred Medicaid costs ($532 million last year and climbing vis-a-vis inflation) as well as the state's higher-educational system, weakened from ten years of funding cuts, estimated at 34 percent.[2]

Domestic Violence

Noting that Missouri's legal framework for handling domestic violence issues had not received a comprehensive review since their initial implementation under the leadership Attorney General John Ashcroft, Koster organized a task force to review the issue in a series of statewide meetings in September, 2010. Identified challenges included: Demand for shelter space far outstripping available resources; Unwillingness by the Missouri General Assembly to adopt a federal law restricting the gun rights of convicted domestic violence offenders despite the state's status as a national leader in homicides associated with domestic violence; and the need for judges to address child welfare and custody issues concurrently with final orders of protection.[3][4]

Healthcare reform

See also: State Attorneys General Against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

Nearly three months after President Obama signed into law his controversial health care reform bill, which narrowly passed the United States House of Representatives just two days prior, members of the Missouri House of Representatives, speaking at a hearing for the Special House Standing Committee on General Laws, discussed calling upon Koster "to sue the federal government for violating the constitution with its passage" of the insurance mandate.[5] Ward Franz, a Republican representative from the 151st house district, argued against such action; he had been told by the state attorney general himself that he had no plans to follow through with such litigation even if requested by the general assembly to do so. Beth Low, a Democratic representative from the 39th house district, also advised against such a course of action believing it to be waste of taxpayer resources and noting that Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder had already pledged to take up the issue himself.

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, along with three state residents, filed suit in federal court against the federal healthcare measure on Thursday, July 8, 2010. In challenging provisions of the federal legislation, Kinder argued that the cash-strapped state could not "afford the huge financial burden of this bill."[6] Furthermore, he argued, it would only serve to reduce state residential access to affordable health care options.

Four days later, however, State Attorney General Koster filed a motion in federal court to try and block Kinder from getting the state embroiled in the national healthcare debate. Koster "contends Kinder should not be allowed to sue in his official capacity and wants that part of the lawsuit dismissed."[7] A spokesman for the lieutenant governor argued, however, that Kinder had a statutory duty to defend seniors in Missouri and that part of the federal law would do considerable harm to them.

On August 3, 2010, the voters of Missouri overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition C, a measure aimed to block the federal government from requiring people to buy health insurance and banned punishment for those without health insurance.[8][9] With slightly over seventy-one percent of voters supporting the referendum, the results were a clear refutation of the Obama White House and national Democratic leadership. Upon closer examination, the statistics of the primary voter turnout made the situation even worse for Democratic politicians. Though Republicans clearly outnumbered Democrats (577,000 Republican voters against 315,000 Democratic electors), the turnout meant that "a significant amount of Democrats either supported the ballot measure repudiating ObamaCare, or didn’t bother to cast a vote to defend the program."[10] Furthermore, Proposition C garnered more votes then either of the major party primaries for the United States Senate combined.

With this in mind, Koster "filed a notice of withdrawal of his motion to intervene in the lawsuit" headed by Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder.[11] A statement released by Kinder noted that the state attorney general "has allowed the lieutenant governor to continue the lawsuit in his official and personal capacities."[12]

Koster filed an amicus brief with the federal appeals court in Florida. The federal health insurance mandate and state law, following the passage of Proposition C by voters, are in conflict, Koster writes in the brief. Federal courts must either expand the current Commerce Clause precedent or strike down the individual mandate to justify the provision on constitutional grounds, according to Koster. The attorney general adds in his legal opinion that the mandate is severable from the federal law and provisions no dependent upon the mandate may stand.[13]


Ethics complaint

Three out of the four candidates who challenged Koster in the bid for the State Attorney General's Office joined together and filed an ethics complaint against him in July 2008. Supporters of Democratic candidates, Jeff Harris and Margaret Donnelly, and Republican Mike Gibbons accused Koster of violating state campaign finance laws following a story published by the Associated Press (AP) about "how Koster's paid campaign staff shuttled money among various committees to get around the state's campaign contribution limits," which limit individual or business group contributions to $1,350 per election cycle.[14] E-mail messages obtained by the AP demonstrated that members of Koster's personal campaign staff "helped direct donors wishing to give more than the state limit to the Economic Growth Council," a front organization, before ultimately coordinating the transfer of that money to both local Democratic Party committees as well as to Koster's own campaign.[15]

Planting AG candidate

In April 2008, David Martin of The Pitch argued that then-candidate for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster had planted Molly Korth Williams, a last-minute addition to the list of state attorney general contenders, all in an underhanded effort "to siphon votes from another woman in the primary, Margaret Donnelly."[16] In addition to her lack of legal experience and no records of her forming a campaign committee in order to raise funds, at a time when three other candidates had raised a combined $1.6 million, Martin points to the very close relationship between Williams and Judge Joseph Dandurand, Koster's political mentor.

While Williams denied the accusation, claiming her campaign was legitimate, Koster's campaign office gave a far more roundabout comment, neither confirming nor refuting Martin's claim. Others noted this should not have come as a complete surprise since "recruitment of primary challengers to weaken other candidates has been a hallmark of Cass County (Dandurand and Koster's home base) politics for years."[17]

Missouri State Senate (2004-2008)

In 2004, Koster, running as a Republican at the time, was elected by the voters of Missouri's thirty-first senatorial district to the Missouri State Senate. Sharp differences in opinion between the state's Republican leadership and himself on issues such as embryonic stem cell research led Koster to announce his switch of party allegiance to the Democrats in August 2007, the first high-profile elected official in the state's history to do so. In his press conference speech, Koster called the far-right's influence on the Republican Party "toxic," earning accolades from Missouri Democrats. At the same time, however, many saw this as political opportunism in the same spirit as Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's party-switch. He did, after all, introduce a measure which made it a crime to rent apartments to illegal aliens and voted in the Missouri General Assembly to cut Medicaid.



On April 9, 2013, Koster confirmed that he is planning to run for Governor in 2016 when current Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is term-limited. “We are making the necessary preparations and building consensus around the state toward that end,” he stated.[18]


See also: Missouri attorney general election, 2012

In September 2011, Koster announced he would be seeking re-election as Missouri Attorney General in 2012.[19] He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on August 7th. Koster defeated Republican nominee Ed Martin and Libertarian Dave Browning in the general election on November 6, 2012.[1][20]

Attorney General of Indiana General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngGreg Zoeller Incumbent 58% 1,453,334
     Democratic Kay Fleming 42% 1,051,504
Total Votes 2,504,838
Election Results via Indiana Secretary of State.


On November 4, 2008, Koster defeated Republican Mike Gibbons in the race for attorney general.

2008 Race for Attorney General - General Election[21]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Chris Koster 52.9%
     Republican Party Mike Gibbons 47.1%
Total Votes 2,784,366
2008 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary[22]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Chris Koster 34.3%
     Democratic Party Margaret Donnelly 34.1%
     Democratic Party Jeff Harris 25.0%
     Democratic Party Molly Williams 6.7%
Total Votes 670,364

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Kinder is available dating back to 2004. Based on available campaign finance records, Kinder raised a total of $10,393,583 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 12, 2013.[23]

Chris Koster's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Attorney General of Missouri Won $4,921,162
2010 Attorney General of Missouri Not up for election $333,286
2008 Attorney General of Missouri Won $4,689,608
2006 Missouri State Senate District 31 Not up for election $40,729
2004 Missouri State Senate District 31 Won $408,798
Grand Total Raised $10,393,583


Koster won re-election to the position of Attorney General of Missouri in 2012. During that election cycle, Koster raised a total of $4,921,162.


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Chris Koster's donors each year.[24] Click [show] for more information.

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Contact Information


Capitol Address:
Missouri Attorney General's Office
Supreme Court Building
207 W. High St.
Post Office Box 899
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Phone: (573) 751-3321
Fax: (573) 751-0774

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 Missouri Secretary of State, "November 6, 2012 General Election Results," accessed November 7, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Kansas City Star, "Why the state should raise its tax on cigarettes," April 5, 2012
  3. Missouri News Horizon, "Reckless Gun Use, Stark Rural Resources Drive Missouri’s Domestic Violence Challenges" 24 Sept. 2010
  4. Missouri News Horizon, "Missouri’s Domestic Violence Challenges Mount, Officials Mull Improved Response" 21 Sept. 2010
  5. The Columbia Missourian, "Representatives ask attorney general to sue over health care law" 13 April, 2010
  6. Missouri Watchdog, "Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder files suit against federal health care law" 8 July, 2010
  7. Business Week, "Mo. AG files motion in health care lawsuit" 12 July, 2010
  8. The Columbia Missourian, "Missouri House seeks to block health insurance mandate" 3 March, 2010
  9. The Columbia Daily Tribune, "Missouri legislators OK referendum on health care" 12 May, 2010
  10. Hot Air, "Missouri pops the ObamaCare-media bubble" 4 Aug. 2010
  11. Legal Newsline, "AG Koster drops out of health care challenge" 23 Aug. 2010
  12. News Tribune, "Missouri AG withdraws motion in health care lawsuit" 22 Aug. 2010 (dead link)
  13. Missouri Watchdog, "Koster files legal opinion on federal health care law" 11 April 2011
  14. Fort Mills Times, "Mo. AG candidate Koster named in ethics complaints" 15 July, 2008
  15. The Columbia Missourian, "Chris Koster’s campaign staff may have violated fundraising law" 8 July, 2008
  16. The Pitch, "Did Sen. Chris Koster plant a fake Missouri AG candidate?" 1 April, 2008
  17. Gone Mild, "Did Chris Koster Recruit Molly Korth Williams?" 3 April, 2008 (dead link)
  18. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Attorney General Chris Koster preparing to run for Missouri governor," April 9, 2013 (dead link)
  19. KMBC, "Mo. AG Chris Koster To Seek 2nd Term," September 23, 2011 (dead link)
  20. AP Election Results-Campaign 2012, "Missouri-Summary Vote Results," August 7, 2012
  21. State of Missouri - Official Results 2008 General Election
  22. State of Missouri - Official Results 2008 Primary Election
  23. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Chris Koster," accessed July 12, 2013
  24. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015

Political offices
Preceded by
Jay Nixon (D)
Missouri Attorney General
Succeeded by