A St. Louis couple facing charges for using guns to threaten trespassing protesters have requested that the district attorney pursuing them be removed for allegedly using their case to campaign.
Joel Schwartz, the attorney for Mark and Patricia McCloskey, filed a request on Wednesday to have St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner removed from their case after Gardner referenced the McCloskeys in campaign emails sent before and after the charges against them were announced, according to KMOV4.
Schwartz’s filing says that several days before charges against the McCloskeys were filed on July 20, Gardner sent out a campaign email that said:
Because you are a supporter of Kim, I want to make you aware of a few late-breaking developments that are making national headlines right now.
You might be familiar with the story of the couple who brandished guns during a peaceful protest outside of their mansions. …
Instead of fighting for the millions of Americans affected by the pandemic – including 31 thousand Missourians – President Trump and [Gov. Mike Parson] are fighting for the two who pointed guns at peaceful citizens during the Black Lives Matter protests. Both President Trump and Governor Parsons are playing politics at a time when they should be doing their elected jobs.
Kim needs your help to fight back! Her election is only weeks away. And right now she is under national scrutiny from our divisive President, the Republican establishment of Missouri, and the right-wing media, including Fox News.
St. Louis will have an opportunity to re-elect progressive circuit attorney Kim Gardner, who time and time again has shown us she isn’t afraid to stand up and hold those accountable who are perpetuating a system of racism and police brutality.
Another campaign email referencing the McCloskey case was sent out after charges were filed, as well, according to the filing. Schwartz argues that the campaign fundraising tactics show a clear example of Gardner using the case to advance her own personal interests, according to KSDK.
“The standard for disqualification of a prosecutor is the same as that for a judge. A prosecutor (and a prosecutor’s office as a whole when appropriate), should be disqualified where a reasonable person would have factual grounds to find an appearance of impropriety,” Schwartz’s filing says. “Here, a reasonable person with access to all the facts would find that there was at least the appearance of impropriety, in that Ms. Gardner’s decision may have been affected by her personal, political, financial, and professional interests, and that her neutrality, judgement, and ability to administer law in an objective manner may have been compromised.”
Gardner charged the McCloskeys with unlawful use of a weapon after the couple threatened Black Lives Matter protesters who had broken through a gate onto private property during a June 28 march.
“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” Gardner said in a statement after the charges were announced.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has filed a request to have the charges against the St. Louis couple dismissed.
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