|41st Attorney General of Missouri|
January 12, 2009
|Preceded by||Jay Nixon|
August 31, 1964 |
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (Before 2007)
|Alma mater||University of Missouri, Columbia
Chris Koster (born August 31, 1964) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Missouri and is the current Attorney General of Missouri. Prior to his election as Attorney General, he had served in the Missouri Senate since 2005 representing the 31st Senatorial District as a Republican until August 1, 2007 when he switched to the Democratic Party.
Early life and career
Koster was born and raised in St. Louis, where he attended Saint Louis University High School. He went on to study at the University of Missouri in Columbia where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987. Four years later, he received his juris doctor degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1991. Additionally, he earned his masters in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002. Prior to becoming a county prosecuting attorney, Koster practiced law with the Kansas City law firm of Blackwell Sanders from 1993 to 1994. He also served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Missouri Attorney General from 1991-93.
Before his election to the Missouri Senate in 2004, Koster served as Prosecuting Attorney of Cass County for ten years. He was first elected prosecutor in 1994 and was subsequently reelected in 1998 and 2002 by wide margins. As prosecutor, he supervised a staff of 20 individuals dedicated to enforcing Missouri’s criminal laws in Cass County. Additionally, his office served as the civil counsel for all non-criminal matters before the county government. During his tenure, Koster supervised litigation in approximately 20,000 cases. He led investigations into many of Missouri’s most notorious criminal cases, including the investigation against serial killer John E. Robinson. He has developed extensive trial experience and has argued and won cases before the Missouri Supreme Court.
Koster was first elected to the Missouri Senate in 2004 as a Republican. He represented Missouri's 31st Senatorial District which consists of Cass, Johnson, Bates and Vernon counties. During his time in the Missouri General Assembly, Koster played key roles in the debates over stem cell research, tort reform, and the elimination of Medicaid fraud. Additionally, in 2006 he successfully carried legislation in the Senate to dramatically over-haul Missouri’s eminent domain laws. He served on the following committees in the Senate:
- Economic Development, Tourism, and Local Government
- Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence
- Pensions, Veterans' Affairs and General Laws
- Commerce, Energy and the Environment
- Agriculture, Conservation, Parks and Natural Resources
Koster championed legislation for Truth in the Missouri Court System, and proposed a bill (SB55) for the elimination of paternity fraud. On August 1, 2007, Koster made Missouri political history when he announced that he was leaving the Missouri Republican Party to become a Democrat. Citing his longstanding differences with the Republican Party on issues like stem cell research, workers’ rights, and the non-partisan court plan, Koster said that the Missouri Republican Party had become too beholden to the extreme right-wing to lead the state of Missouri forward. He commented, "Today, Republican moderates are all but extinct."
Before his change of parties, Koster was Chairman of the Republican Caucus, the majority party's fourth-ranking position in the Missouri State Senate.
On August 5, 2008, Koster narrowly defeated State Representative Margaret Donnelly in the Democratic primary for the nomination for Missouri Attorney General. His campaign was not easily won because he had to overcome the label of "opportunist" as a result of switching parties during the '08 election. He then went on to defeat Republican State Senator Mike Gibbons in the general election, 52.83% to 47.17%. He was sworn in as Attorney General on January 12, 2009, succeeding now Governor Jay Nixon.
Koster is an advocate of the death penalty, and as of July 2013, there were 21 inmates on death row in Missouri whose executions he was pressing the Supreme Court of Missouri to expedite. After the 21 inmates filed suit before the state Supreme Court against the Missouri Department of Corrections over the use of the drug propofol used in lethal injections, concerning cruel and unusual punishment, the state Supreme Court temporarily halted the further use of the death penalty until the case had been ultimately decided. With Missouri law allowing for the use of other forms of the death penalty in cases where lethal injection is not available, Koster has advocated the use of gas chambers to execute Missouri prisoners.
Koster's office recently defended U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry after she denied a motion for temporary restraining orders on six police officers enforcing a 5-second rule in Ferguson, Missouri, citing the need for law enforcement's protection of property and the availability of a "free-speech zone". However, at the time of this ruling the free speech zone was off-limits to the public.
A 2012 audit by state Auditor Tom Schweich criticized Koster for his practice of awarding contingency fee contracts to law firms that had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign. In 2014, Koster endorsed Missouri's contentious right-to-farm amendment, which passed.
In October 2014, a California judge dismissed a lawsuit which Koster had filed, rejecting the arguments of six states that challenged California's prohibition on the sale of eggs laid by caged hens kept in conditions more restrictive than those approved by California voters in a 2008 ballot initiative, Proposition 2. Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled that the states lacked legal standing to sue on behalf of their residents and that Koster and other plaintiffs were representing only the interests of egg farmers, rather than "a substantial statement of their populations". According to the Kansas City Star. Koster's office spent more than $83,000 on the failed lawsuit.
In October 2014, House Speaker Tim Jones (politician) announced his plans to investigate charges that Koster took actions in office that were designed to benefit campaign contributors. News coverage revealed that The Simmons Firm had donated two $50,000 checks to Koster's campaign in 2013 only months after Koster filed a lawsuit against Republic Services over its underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill(Simmons subsequently won a nearly $7 million settlement from Republic in a class-action lawsuit).; that Koster had ended an inquiry focusing on the company 5-hour Energy after conversations with a lobbyist for the company who was also a Koster contributor; and that Koster had negotiated an agreement with Pfizer, another campaign contributor, to pay Missouri $750,000 in connection with a multistate investigation of illegal marketing practices, at approximately $350,000 less than what the state would have collected had it participated in a joint negotiation with other states, and attended a Pfizer convention as a speaker and guest during the settlement negotiation.
As Attorney General
|2012 Race for Attorney General of Missouri (2012 MO SoS Election Report)|
|Democratic||Chris Koster (incumbent)||1,482,381||55.81||+2.98|
|2008 Race for Attorney General of Missouri|
- Sen. Chris Koster's Party Switch Press Conference YouTube, August 1, 2007
- Andrea Chalfin, KBIA, Koster Switches Parties, publicbroadcasting.net, August 1, 2007; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Kelly Wiese for AP, "Likely Missouri attorney general candidate switches to Democratic Party", medialab.semissourian.com, Southeast Missourian, August 2, 2007.
- Stephanie Simon,When moderates feel lost in the GOP September 3, 2007
- Unofficial Election Returns Missouri Secretary of State
- Geetika Rudra (July 10, 2013). "Missouri Death Row Legal Battle Could Bring Back Gas Chamber". abcnews.go.com.
- Matt Berman (July 11, 2013). "Death by Gas Chamber Is Still a Thing in the U.S.". nationaljournal.com.
- Jim Salter; Associated Press (July 3, 2013). "MO. AG SAYS STATE MAY HAVE TO USE GAS CHAMBER". ap.org.
- Eli Yokley; The Joplin Globe (July 13, 2013). "Attorney General Koster suggests return of gas chamber". joplinglobe.com.
- The Associated Press (July 10, 2013). "Mo. Governor Shows No Support for Gas Chamber Idea". abcnews.go.com.
- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster Talks SEC, Death Penalty, and Gay Marriage, youtube.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- "Motion for temporary restraining orders on six police officers enforcing a 5-second rule denied", stltoday.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Judge Catherine D. Perry ruling discussed, aclu.org; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Koster lawsuit against California ban on caged hens' eggs, stltoday.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- KOster endorses Missouri's right to farm amendment, themissouritimes.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Judge Kimberly Mueller tosses suit by 6 states re sale of eggs of caged hens, sfgate.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Judge Kimberly Mueller tosses suit by 6 states re sale of eggs of caged hens, politico.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Judge Kimberly Mueller tosses suit by 6 states re sale of eggs of caged hens, sacbee.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Barbara Shelly. Blog regarding Koster's failed lawsuit against California ban on caged hens' eggs, kansascity.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- "Lobbyists bearing gifts pursue state attorneys general, nytimes.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Missouri Attorney General faces scrutiny, nytimes.com, October 30, 2014; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Editorial on Koster, kansascity.com; accessed April 3, 2015.
- Official Manual, State of Missouri, 2005-2006. Jefferson City, MO: Secretary of State.
- Gubernatorial campaign website
- Missouri Office of the Attorney General official website
- Missouri State Legislature - Senator Chris Koster official government website
- Project Vote Smart - Senator Chris Koster (MO) profile
- Follow the Money - Chris Koster
|Attorney General of Missouri