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House budget chairman appointed as next Missouri treasurer

December 19, 2018
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Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick waits with his wife, Mallory, to be introduced as the next state treasurer during a press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, at the state Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri. Gov. Mike Parson said he chose to appoint Fitzpatrick because of his background in business and finance.(AP Photo/David A. Lieb)
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Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick waits with his wife, Mallory, to be introduced as the next state treasurer during a press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, at the state Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri. Gov. Mike Parson said he chose to appoint Fitzpatrick because of his background in business and finance.(AP Photo/David A. Lieb)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday that he is appointing the chairman of the House Budget Committee to serve as the next state treasurer, adding another link to a chain-reaction of office shuffling among Missouri’s top elected officials.

Republican Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick will succeed Republican Treasurer Eric Schmitt when Schmitt takes over for Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Hawley is leaving office in January — two years ahead of the end of his term — because he won election to the U.S. Senate in November by defeating Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

The appointment of Fitzpatrick to fill the remaining two years of Schmitt’s term as treasurer will necessitate even more changes.

Parson will be responsible for calling a special election to fill Fitzpatrick’s 158th House District in southwest Missouri. The House speaker will be responsible for selecting a new budget committee chairman.

The state treasurer manages Missouri’s revenues and oversees its investment portfolio. Parson said he chose Fitzpatrick for the job because of his background in business and finance and his experience as budget chairman — even though Fitzpatrick sometimes challenged Parson’s budget decisions.

Fitzpatrick “has built a proven track record of being a wise steward and protector of the people’s money,” Parson said.

In September, Fitzpatrick led an unsuccessful attempt to override some of Parson’s line-item budget vetoes, including one affecting a state program that certifies hospitals as time-critical trauma centers for heart attack and stroke patients. Fitzpatrick said at the time that he respected Parson but believed the governor — who had been in office only a few weeks when he signed the budget — was not fully informed when he made some of his vetoes.

Both downplayed their disagreements on Wednesday.

Fitzpatrick, 31, of Cassville, first won election to the House in 2012 and was unopposed for re-election this year. He led the House budget committee the past two years.

He also is CEO of MariCorp U.S., which bills itself as one of the nation’s largest manufacturing and construction firms specializing in floating boat docks. The company’s website says it was founded by Fitzpatrick as a marine repair firm in 2003, while Fitzpatrick was still a teenager. He graduated from high school in 2006 and from the University of Missouri in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

As a college student, Fitzpatrick said he liked to spend his free time reading the financial statements of publicly traded companies.

“Having the opportunity to serve as state treasurer, it’s not just another political office for me. It’s something that I really think I’m going to look forward to doing,” Fitzpatrick said.

Missouri has seen an unusually large turnover in its top offices this year.

Parson, who was elected as lieutenant governor in 2016, took over as governor June 1 after Republican Gov. Eric Greitens resigned. Greitens had been facing potential impeachment proceedings in the House over allegations of sexual and political misconduct.

A couple of weeks later, Parson appointed Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, a Jefferson City Republican, to take over as lieutenant governor. Parson’s authority to do so is being challenged in a lawsuit that’s pending before the state Supreme Court.

Republican House Speaker Todd Richardson left office Nov. 1, a couple of months before his term was scheduled to end. Richardson accepted a position within Parson’s administration as director of the state’s Medicaid health care program. House Republicans tapped Rep. Elijah Haahr as the next speaker, though that still must be approved by the full chamber when the legislative session begins Jan. 9.

Come January, Republican Attorney General Jay Ashcroft and Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway will be the only two statewide executive officials serving in offices to which they were elected. Galloway won election in November, though she originally was appointed to the office in 2015 following the suicide of Republican Auditor Tom Schweich.

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Follow David A. Lieb at: http://twitter.com/DavidALieb

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