Two candidates running for Missouri attorney general discussed a variety of topics during a forum Monday. The event was hosted by the Federalist Society.

Republican Will Scharf and Democrat Elad Gross participated in the forum; Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey did not participate.

Scharf, who is on Donald Trump’s legal team, said Missouri is failing on fighting crime. He said the state should be prosecuting more violent crime – not less.

“We have underfunded, undermanned police departments,” said Scharf. “On the prosecution front, you have far too many cases being lost, far too many cases that are never even being brought certainly the way that they should be. Plea deals are out of control and rampant. And lastly, we’re a deep red state with deep blue courts. Our bail laws are far too weak. We need much tougher rules on pretrial detention.”

Gross, who is a civil rights attorney, said reinvesting in the community will get better results, such as stable housing, and boosting job opportunities and education. They both criticized Bailey about his direction on fighting crime.

U.S. Congress is debating whether to protect invitro fertilization access to help women have children. Gross said the state and federal governments should pass these protections for reproductive rights.

“But there’s questions right now about the language to the point where we’ve got Republicans and Democrats in our state legislature talking about passing a law to protect IVF. That’s how extreme we’ve gotten in Missouri,” said Gross.

Scharf said Missouri law does not endanger IVF.

Scharf said the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education should be investigated. He said the state’s educational system should focus on parental rights and student achievement.

“I think we need to understand how this completely unaccountable bureaucracy is so comprehensively failing our students and our families all over the state, and why it’s done so for so long. We have a real problem with government accountability in Jefferson City,” said Scharf. “Deep state bureaucrats, you can call them, a lot of my supporters would, run this state in a way that has left our core governmental functions like education.”

Gross said parental rights belong to parents when it comes to education.

Louisiana has adopted a law which requires public schools there to display the Ten Commandments in classrooms. Gross said the law is unconstitutional.

“It’s a waste of the taxpayers in Louisiana’s money,” said Gross. “It’s going to be a waste of our money if it comes here. And if you want to spend that money somewhere, just because you want to put it somewhere, put it into civic education, put it into our classrooms, put it on issues that actually matter.”

Missouri Attorney General candidate Will Scharf said putting up a Ten Commandments display in classrooms is constitutional and Missouri should follow Louisiana.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office is defending three state senators in defamation lawsuits for misidentifying a Kansas City Super Bowl parade shooter. Sens. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, and Nick Schroer, R-Wentzville, posted a photo of a Kansas man on social media, incorrectly stating that he is an undocumented immigrant and the mass shooter. Now, Denton Loudermill of Kansas is suing the ultra conservatives in a Kansas federal court.

Scharf disagrees on the lawsuits in more ways than one.

“The lawsuit itself is garbage. The statements in question weren’t defamatory. They don’t meet the standard for defamation under the law,” said Scharf. “That having been said, I don’t think the AGs office has any role here, and I think that the AGs office should not have intervened. The legal arguments that they’ve made for why they needed to intervene, about protecting Missouri jurisdiction or something like that, are absolute bunk.”

The Missouri Attorney General’s office argue that the senators are protected by legislative immunity because they were acting in their official capacity when they posted their comments.

Gross said state taxpayers should not pay for the legal bills in these cases.

More than 20 people were shot at the celebration and one woman was killed.

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