Lawmaker forced KC to spend more on police. Now he wants a spot on the MO Supreme Court

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A Kansas City area state senator who successfully passed legislation that forced Kansas City to spend more on its police force is now seeking a spot on the Missouri Supreme Court.

State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, a Parkville Republican, is among the 22 applicants to fill the vacancy on the state’s highest court left by Judge George W. Draper III who was appointed by former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in 2011. Draper, who previously served as just the state’s second Black chief justice in history, will retire next month after turning 70, the court’s mandatory retirement age.

Luetkemeyer, an attorney who was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2018, has served as chairman of the Missouri Senate Judiciary Committee and sits on the chamber’s budget writing panel. Republicans who spoke with The Star floated Luetkemeyer as a potential candidate to fill a vacancy for Missouri attorney general. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, passed over the state senator and appointed his general counsel Andrew Bailey for the position.

Luetkemeyer, reached by phone Wednesday, declined to comment on his application.

The Republican state senator made headlines last year when he sponsored legislation that forced Kansas City to increase the amount of its budget it spends on police from 20% to 25%. City leaders criticized Republican lawmakers for deciding how the city should allocate its police funds.

Kansas City is the only city in Missouri that does not control its police force. The department is overseen by a five-member board of police commissioners. Four are appointed by the governor while Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas fills the remaining spot.

Draper is one of two Black judges on the seven-member court, along with Judge Robin Ransom.

Of the 22 applicants to fill Draper’s seat on the high court, one, Jackson County Judge Kenneth R. Garrett III, is Black. Garrett, who hails from Kansas City, was appointed by Nixon in 2013. Prior to becoming a judge, he worked as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Jackson County.

Other candidates include Cole County Associate Circuit Judge Christopher Limbaugh, the son of a federal court judge and cousin to the late conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and Kelly Broniec, the chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District. Broniec is one of six women to apply for the position.

A seven-member commission led by Chief Justice Paul C. Wilson will interview the candidates in late August and select three nominees from the applicant pool. Parson will then appoint his pick for the vacancy.