Politics & Government

Bad breakup: Ex-wife drops $200,000 to blast Mo. AG candidate

If Missouri state Sen. Chris Koster didn't make enough enemies when he switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party last year, now his ex-wife is weighing in against him.

Koster, in the midst of fiercely contested race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, is bracing for $187,500 in television ads paid for by ex-wife Rebecca Bowman Nassikas.

Nassikas, who now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., ponied up $200,000 last week to oppose his candidacy. She gave the money to a dormant political committee called Missourians for Honest Leadership.

Koster spokesman Danny Kanner said it was just another example of Koster's political rivals trying to undermine his candidacy.

"Our opponents are doing anything they can to throw trash against the wall about Chris to see if anything sticks," Kanner said. "Rebecca is a private citizen who can do whatever she wants with her money."

Documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission show that Missourians for Honest Leadership was essentially dormant for 18 months until July 3. On that date, the committee moved from Columbia to St. Louis and got a new treasurer. Nothing more happened until July 25, when the committee received the $200,000 infusion from Nassikas.

The committee used $2,000 the next day to set up a Web site called The Facts on Koster, which lists newspaper articles critical of some of Koster's fundraising tactics. On July 28, the committee paid $187,500 to a New York company to produce television ads against Koster and buy air time.

Missourians for Honest Leadership was based in Columbia when it was formed in October 2006. Its only previous activity was to spend $17,599 that year to oppose three Republican state representatives — Scott Muschany of St. Louis County, Rex Rector of Harrisonville and Shannon Cooper of Clinton. Muschany and Cooper were re-elected, but Rector was defeated.

Koster is in a tight three-way race for attorney general against state Reps. Margaret Donnelly of St. Louis County and Jeff Harris of Columbia.

Koster, who served as Cass County prosecutor from 1994 through 2004, was divorced from Nassikas in 2003.