Best Lightning Rod

Kim Gardner

Staff Pick

For a quiet person, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner sure seems to enjoy calling down the thunder. The ex-state representative has prosecuted the (now-former) governor, ticked off members of her own staff, pursued criminal charges against a stunning number of city cops and generally invited anyone watching to love or hate her. Since taking office in 2017, Gardner has done the opposite of playing it safe. Along with prosecuting officers for excessive force, she has kept a running "exclusion list" of cops whom she considers so untrustworthy that her prosecutors will not accept cases from them. That's made her more than a few enemies, but probably none as tantrum-throwing mad as the St. Louis Police Officers Association and its business manager, Jeff Roorda, who has called for her to be removed from office "by force" if necessary. Gardner isn't backing down, and there are more storms on the horizon as her old foe in the 2016 election, ex-prosecutor Mary Pat Carl, prepares for a second round in 2020.

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