Remember how then potential Attorney General candidate, Kurt Schaeffer, like a dog with a really, really tasty bone, wouldn’t let go of the Planned Parenthood issue that erupted after a video surfaced that purported to show that the organization “sold baby parts.” Long after a state investigation cleared the Missouri Planned Parenthood affiliate of anything verboten, and, indeed, long after the videos themselves were widely discredited, Schaefer kept shaking that juicy, and, in terms of tax-dollars and legislative time, very expensive, ultimately imaginary bone.
Remember how he wanted to shut down abortions in Columbia by making the far-fetched claim that the University of Missouri was violating a law that forbids spending tax-dollars on abortions because the University Hospital gave a doctor who performed abortions at the Columbia Planned Parenthood the hospital privileges also required by state law? Remember how when a judge ruled against his efforts, he whined that Attorney General Chris Koster should “appeal immediately to enforce long-standing state law”? Expensive, time-consuming, futile. For sure. But Schaefer didn’t care. Then.
Well, guess what? Schaefer seems to have had his come-to-Jesus moment. As St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger put it:
… He [i.e., Schaefer] was the star witness for the defense — yes, the defense — in the case of 23 members of the clergy — most of them African-American — facing charges of trespassing and obstruction of the state Senate related to a protest they held on May 6, 2014, in the gallery of the Senate.
[…] on Tuesday, Schaefer stood up for the state constitution. He stood up for the law. He stood up for the principles of the First Amendment. He stood up for 23 people who never should have been charged with a crime, people who were in the Senate that day two and a half years ago to protest Schaefer’s stubborn opposition to allowing Medicaid expansion in Missouri.
While this principled stand is not, in itself, in opposition to his earlier actions in regard to Planned Parenthood, his rationale does give one pause:
“This case is all about prosecutorial discretion,” Schaefer told me after his testimony. “I just spent a whole lot of money telling Missourians about my prosecutorial experience. Well, you spend your resources on things that are real, not things like this. This case never should have come to trial.”
Too bad he didn’t remember this principle of “prosecutorial discretion” earlier. He could have saved the state a bundle and perhaps, just perhaps, the legislature might have had enough time to so some real work. Too bad that the principle he chose to observe instead was the pander principle.