Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) slammed progressive Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) for calling to defund the police while hiring private security, telling The Post that her comments are “hypocritical” and a “slap in the face” to victims of crime in the state.
Bush has come under fire by Republicans in the wake of reports that the Missouri Democrat spent $70,000 on a private security detail over the course of three months despite her push to reduce funding for law enforcement. During a CBS interview on Thursday, Bush doubled down on her position, stating that she would pay $200,000 for security, noting she has received death threats since taking office.
“I’m going to make sure I have security because I now have had attempts on my life and I have too much work to do, there are too many people that need help right now,” she told the network on Thursday.
“If I end up spending $200,000, if I spend $10 more dollars on it — you know what, I get to be here to do the work. So suck it up. Defunding the police has to happen. We need to defund the police and put that money into social safety nets because we’re trying to save lives.”
But Schmitt, who is running for Senate, accused Bush of failing to prioritize the safety of her constituents despite ensuring she is protected from threats, noting that St. Lewis, which is her district, saw a 50-year high in homicides in 2020.
“She spent over $70,000 on private security and just the last three months, and she even acknowledged that she would increase funding for her security by as much as $200,000, and told everybody else suck it up and called for the defunding of police in the same breath. As the state’s chief law enforcement officer, I can’t stress enough how insulting it is to the families who’ve lost loved ones and kids to the rise of violent crime here in Missouri,” he told The Post in an interview on Thursday afternoon.
“St. Louis had a 50-year high in homicides last year, Kansas City had an all-time high in homicides last year — those two cities are actually moving forward with the funding police departments. So this isn’t just rhetoric anymore, this is reality here in the heartland, and Cori Bush’s comments are incredibly irresponsible.
“We’re never going to defend the police here in Missouri, not now, not ever if I have anything to do with it.”
“In a sense, it’s a slap in the face to those who’ve lost loved ones in the rise of violent crime and by the way, small business owners who’ve watched their livelihoods burned to the ground,” he added.
In addition to Bush, Schmitt took aim at St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner for dropping a number of felony cases, adding that he has spoken to law enforcement officers who said morale is low over rhetoric taking aim at police over a few bad actors and a lack of resources.
“You have elected officials talking about eliminating their jobs, taking money away. When the level of violence that we see right now isat historic highs, it’s just not sustainable,” he continued.
“We have to, you know, I think, continue to support law enforcement, make sure they know they’re appreciated, make sure they have the dollars for the training and the equipment that they need and boots on the ground.”
Schmitt said that as attorney general he has taken strides to support law enforcement during his tenure.
“We’ve done a number of things to support law enforcement, No. 1, we’ve been prosecuting in our safer streets partnership. We’ve got well over 600 charges on things like carjackings, assaulting police officers, and we’re going to continue to do that,” he said, noting they worked with federal prosecutors on the cases.
“That’s a unique partnership. We’ve also just done other things to support law enforcement, we started Back the Blue award where we go around the state acknowledging heroic acts of law enforcement.
Republicans have made defunding the police a central issue as they move toward the midterms, taking aim at progressives rhetoric on the matter and citing it for the rise in crime in a number of cities.
Progressive lawmakers have stood by their position, advocating for a community-based strategy and social services.