Missouri’s Republican attorney general was trying to have Democratic Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner removed from her position. With her departure, the Republican governor will be able to choose a new top prosecutor to take over in the mostly Democratic city that has been plagued by high crime rates and underinvestment for years.
Attorney General Andrew Bailey has been critical of Ms. Gardner’s leadership in recent months, citing the office’s failure to complete even the simplest of jobs, such as reviewing warrant applications, and the frequent absence of overworked assistant prosecutors in court. Mr. Bailey said on Thursday that Ms. Gardner need not remain in office until June.
At the beginning of her term, Ms. Gardner made headlines when her office filed criminal charges against Republican Governor Eric Greitens. After striking an agreement with her office, Mr. Greitens resigned and was never prosecuted. According to local media, Ms. Gardner’s main investigator in that case pled guilty to evidence tampering.
When Ms. Gardner filed a federal lawsuit against her own city, the case received widespread media coverage. She said that those who opposed her attempts to reform the city’s judicial system and end police brutality were engaged in a “racially motivated conspiracy to deny the civil rights of racial minorities.”
While Ms. Gardner was re-elected with a large majority in 2020, she has recently faced growing bipartisan opposition to her performance in office. Local media report that a downtown gunshot was recorded on camera, and that an adolescent girl lost both her legs in a car accident that may have been caused by a guy awaiting trial for robbery.
Tishaura Jones, a Democrat and the mayor of the city, said she had previously urged Ms. Gardner to do some “soul-searching” to figure out whether she should remain in her position. Ms. Jones expressed optimism that Governor Mike Parson will include local authorities in the appointment process on Thursday.
A statement sent by Mr. Parson said, “we fully understand the gravity of this situation.” He had previously stated that he would assist with municipal authorities to identify a successor.