Democrat Robin Smith is portraying herself as a political outsider in her campaign for Missouri Secretary of State. She isn’t.
Both Ms. Smith and Republican challenger Jay Ashcroft are second-generation candidates of political families. While the Ashcroft patriarch, former Governor, U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, is better known with greater accomplishments, Smith’s political pedigree is actually larger. She is preceded in politics by both her father, the late Wayman Smith, Sr., and brother, Wayman Smith, Jr. Both were St. Louis aldermen serving in the rigidly controlled political machine of the late legendary state senator J. B. “Jet” Banks. With the Banks machine’s reputation for shady election practices, it is no coincidence that Ms. Smith’s choice of offices to seek is the one that supervises Missouri elections. The office also certifies and disciplines notaries public, who certify the identity of voters casting absentee ballots, the abuse of which was the election fraud that overturned the results of a contest in this year’s Missouri Democratic primary.
Recent Ashcroft ads disclosed that Ms. Smith has been delinquent in paying taxes. Ironically, the political career of Sen. Banks ended shortly after his conviction on felony charges of filing false state income tax returns.
Ms. Smith has also been involved in local politics. She was reputedly a close personal friend of notorious former St. Louis school superintendent Jerome Jones, whose administration was tarnished in 1987 by a scathing state audit called resulting from a citizen petition. Criticized for extravagant poorly documented spending of taxpayer funds, he may be best known for his comment that it was hard to find lunch in St. Louis for under $100. (Remember, those were 1987 dollars he was talking about.)
Ms. Smith’s claim to independence is her tenure as a reporter and anchor for three national television network affiliates in St. Louis. Toiling for local mainstream media outlets is anything but politically independent.
In addition to supervising elections and notaries public, the secretary of state also supervises business formation and disclosure, securities regulation and investor protection and publishes state administrative rules and regulations. While Ashcroft’s training and experience as an attorney well prepares him for these duties, there is nothing in Ms. Smith’s background that qualifies her for the job.