UPI Photo/Bill Greenblatt
Rex Sinquefield has been a major donor to institutions in the city, including the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis — and a host of conservative politicians.
Did the most powerful conservative in Missouri get swept up in the Ashley Madison data breach?
Data downloaded after the adultery-facilitating company was hacked last month shows that someone using billionaire philanthropist Rex Sinquefield's personal email address and post office box paid $268 to ADL Media Inc. — Ashley Madison's deceptively innocuous parent company name — on July 30, 2012.
Laura Slay, a spokeswoman for Sinquefield, says that customer was not Sinquefield. "Rex Sinquefield has never registered with this site," she said via email. "The profile was created by an imposter." The credit card used in the transaction, she says, is not one used by Sinquefield.
Now, it's true that it would be easy enough for an Ashley Madison customer to create an account using an email address that's not his own. The site apparently did not require email verification
. However, it seems unusual that someone would also go to the trouble of using a post office box associated with the same person. While it could be an elaborate set-up, the data indicates the transaction took place several years before anyone suspected the site was vulnerable to hacking.
The data also shows that the person who set up the account used a Missouri IP address — and one traceable to an Internet service provider, Radiowire
, that only provides services in central Missouri. Among the areas serviced by Radiowire is the town of Westphalia, where Sinquefield has an estate
According to CNN.com
, customers who spent at least $250 on Ashley Madison were given an "affair guarantee" — if they didn't have an affair within three months, they could request to get their money back. (The minimum purchase on the site? Just $49.)
Intriguingly, the person who set up the account also later paid $20 to the company for a "full delete." Ashley Madison offered that service
to people willing to pay extra to remove their footprint on the site (although, clearly, it didn't work with anything close to fullness).
A St. Louis-based financier and philanthropist, the married Sinquefield is the single largest donor to candidates supporting conservative causes in the state of Missouri. In January, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
put his total political spending at $37 million
— which has given him enormous influence. Senator Claire McCaskill told the newspaper, “In Jefferson City, the first question legislators ask is not, ‘What do my constituents think?’ It’s, ‘What does Rex think?’ They’re not saying it out loud, because they’re afraid of him, but everyone is uncomfortable about what’s going on.”
Locally, Sinquefield's goals are less that of a Christian conservative and more that of a free-market fiscal one — in addition to supporting charter schools, he's been mostly focused on eliminating the state and city income taxes. But his generosity to Republicans in a state that puts no contribution limits on individual donors has shaped Missouri politics beyond that one area of interest. Some of the legislators he's backed have been eager to weigh in on social issues. State Rep. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau), who received $4,800 from Sinquefield's Grow Missouri in 2014, pushed a "religious freedom" bill that year
that critics said would, for example, allow bakeries to refuse to serve gay weddings. And Steve Tilley (formerly R-Perryville), who as House Speaker was a major recipient of Sinquefield's generosity, was a key sponsor in 2012 of the state's controversial "don't say gay" bill
, which would have banned public schools from discussing sexual orientation.
Recently, Sinquefield's largesse has been directed at GOP gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway. Last year, Hanaway famously opined that "sexual permissiveness" has impoverished women and, ultimately, led to acceptance of child porn
. (You can listen to her unedited remarks online
Of the $1.4 million that Hanaway raised last year, politicmo.com reported
, $1 million came from Sinquefield.
Nationally, he has a history of supporting conservatives as well — including those who are far more passionate about social issues than fiscal ones. In addition to Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee, he's given to Michele Bachmann and Ted Cruz.
And then there's Todd Akin. In August 2012, the Republican congressman, who was vying to beat McCaskill in a run for U.S. Senate, made his infamous comments about "legitimate rape" while attempting to justify his opposition to abortion even when a woman has been sexually assaulted.
When those remarks caused numerous Republicans to distance themselves from the lawmaker, a political action committee called "Now or Never" announced it would make an $800,000 ad buy to help Akin
. Soon after, Sinquefield personally donated $800,000 to the committee.
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