News Briefs

After quiet year, Rex Sinquefield donations start flowing in Missouri again

By: - January 5, 2022 9:30 am

Rex Sinquefield at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis on May 7, 2012 (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images).

With the 2022 statewide elections just around the corner, Missouri’s most prolific political donor is breaking out his checkbook once again. 

Rex Sinquefield, a retired investor from St. Louis, didn’t make a single political contribution in 2021 until Dec. 11

Since then, he has donated $675,000. 

Most of that comes from two $250,000 checks — one to a political action committee supporting state Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick’s campaign for state auditor, the other to a PAC supporting Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, who has said he is running for governor in 2024

During the 2020 election cycle, Sinquefield donated $4.6 million to various candidates and committees. The biggest recipients were PACs supporting Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt, both of which received $1 million from Sinquefield. 

Raised in a St. Louis-area orphanage, Sinquefield made his fortune after founding the money management firm Dimensional Fund Advisors. He retired in 2005 and returned to Missouri. 

Since then, he has donated millions through the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation to various causes, including a music composition program at the University of Missouri in Columbia and the St. Vincent Home for Children, the orphanage where Sinquefield grew up.

A huge chess enthusiast, Sinquefield worked to turn St. Louis into the nation’s chess capital by relocating the World Chess Hall of Fame there.

He also began spending big in politics, primarily in service to his main policy priorities: Revamping the state’s education system and eliminating the Missouri income tax.

Over the last decade, Sinquefield has given more than $41 million in campaign contributions — mostly to Republicans, though not exclusively. 

In 2016, he bankrolled a slate of candidates in GOP statewide primaries, spending nearly $11 million supporting candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer. 

Of the candidates he supported, only one prevailed.

Over the years, he’s financed a handful of ballot initiatives with varying success. His effort to force St. Louis and Kansas City to hold regular votes on their earnings tax passed in 2010, and in 2012 he helped St. Louis regain control of its police department. 

In late 2020, Sinquefield split with his longtime lobbying firm. The move came after Sinquefield-backed efforts to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport and merge city and county governments in St. Louis fell apart.

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.