Since 2008, when Missouri abolished contribution limits, Mr. Sinquefield has donated more than $20 million to local candidates and political action committees, driving the political debate on issues like education, upending the political world here and making him perhaps the most influential private citizen in the state. More than half of that money has gone to advance his signature cause: eliminating state and local income taxes in Missouri, a major source of government revenue, and replacing them with sales taxes.
But efforts this year by a Sinquefield-backed group to abolish the state income tax by referendum stalled amid a dispute over ballot language issued by the current secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, a Democrat. Now, with Ms. Carnahan stepping down at the end of her term, Mr. Sinquefield, 68, has a chance to revive the issue and has invested heavily to help Mr. Schoeller, who as a state representative voted to eliminate Missouriís income tax, succeed her.
The no-limits giving that has let him do it might soon be coming to a campaign near you. The lawyers and activists who played a critical role in abolishing limits on contributions to independent groups ó culminating in the Supreme Courtís Citizens United decision two years ago ó now hope to persuade Congress to repeal the federal caps on direct contributions to candidates, one of the last vestiges of the post-Watergate reforms.
Legal and legislative challenges to contribution limits are already proliferating at the state level and federally. This month, the Republican National Committee asked the Supreme Court to consider its lawsuit challenging limits on the combined amount an individual can give to party committees in each election cycle.