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Editorial: Anti-racism exposed! (And other silly antics by Eric Schmitt)

Editorial: Anti-racism exposed! (And other silly antics by Eric Schmitt)

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Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and Roy Cohn

Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wisconsin, right, and aide Roy Cohn attend proceedings at a Senate Investigations subcommittee hearing on April 22, 1954. 

Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s relentless campaign to be Missouri’s next U.S. senator is going to cost taxpayers dearly. Normally, election campaigns are supposed to be funded independently with absolutely no public funds being spent to influence voters’ choices in favor of one candidate over another. But Schmitt is using his office’s substantial legal powers to create showy displays of get-tough pseudo-conservatism. All at taxpayer expense.

He is trying to force various local governments in Missouri to hand over thousands of records so Schmitt can assert on the campaign trail that he is getting to the bottom of liberalism run amok. By golly, he’s going to unearth Democrat collusion at the highest levels of St. Louis-area government to impose mask mandates and save lives during the pandemic. This scandal shall be exposed!

He has demanded records from the Springfield school district so he can expose that educators are harboring anti-racist sentiments. If he can get to the bottom of this outrage, he hopes to prove to his Trumpian base that the scourge of critical race theory does, in fact, exist in Missouri public schools. Schmitt last week sued the school district, alleging that about 170 teachers and staff have received training in 2020 that would “create shared understanding … around complex issues of systemic racism” and allow those staffers to “receive tools on how to become anti-racist.”

Perhaps Schmitt, upon obtaining these secret documents, will feign disbelief like the police chief in the film “Casablanca,” and announce he is shocked, shocked to learn of anti-racism in Missouri schools. Or, even better, he will imitate his apparent inspirational hero, Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and wave a handful of the released documents over his head as he alleges the presence of hundreds or even thousands of anti-racists secretly embedded at various levels of Missouri’s educational institutions.

The 1954 quote from a brave Boston lawyer applies equally to McCarthy and Schmitt: “You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?

Schmitt’s lawsuit was prompted by the Springfield school district’s demand of an up-front $37,000 deposit to cover the costs of a search for documents related to critical race theory. Such fishing expeditions require significant staffing, hours of painstaking research and more hours to perform redactions.

In general, this newspaper objects strongly when government entities use exorbitant fees to discourage Sunshine Law requests. Journalists normally ask for such fees to be waived, which state law allows in the interest of informing the public. State law doesn’t, however, allow waiving fees so a politician can call attention to himself and advance his Senate bid.

Silly as these antics are, they are also extremely costly to the government entities that must hire lawyers to defend themselves. It’s the taxpayers who ultimately foot these bills. And that’s how Schmitt gets to advance his Senate campaign at public expense. Has he no sense of decency?

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