Tue. Jun 15th, 2021

An influential political advisor was confirmed by the Missouri Senate to the board that controls the University of Missouri system.

Todd Graves was confirmed 19-13 to represent Northwest Missouri at the University of Missouri Board of Curators. Graves is the former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.

“He’s clearly a Republican and he’s filling a Republican spot on the board,” State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, said. “I think that’s appropriate.”

Graves nomination drew bipartisan pushback, though a Democratic senator did eventually vote for confirmation. Luetkemeyer was responsible for ushering Graves through the process.

“I won’t be a Republican curator, I support the system,” Graves said in an interview with News-Press NOW. “Some people are appointed as Republicans and people are appointed as Democrats. Beyond that … I don’t see that having much of an impact one way or the other.”

By state law, no more than five of the nine-member board can be from one political party. State Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Jefferson City, objected to Graves nomination by Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson.

“Nominees should be respectful of the Senate and should answer our questions honestly and forthrightly; this nominee did not,” Wieland said, according to the Missouri Times. “There’s a line that’s been crossed tonight, and there’s no going back from that line.”

Graves brushed off Senate criticism.

“I’ve never served in the Missouri Senate (and) I don’t really understand their ways,” Graves said. “I take this as a political process, a process I’ve now been through, and I don’t have a reaction beyond that.”

Graves previously served as a U.S. attorney under former President George W. Bush. His brother is a Republican congressman who represents Northwest Missouri.

Several senators brought up a combined $200,000 in donations from the Republican Party to a political action committee with ties to Graves Garrett while Graves headed the GOP party.

Luetkemeyer’s spouse, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, is an attorney at Graves’s law firm. She also previously served as the top attorney for the governor’s office under Greitens.

State Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, also voted in favor of Graves’s confirmation.

contributed to this report.