(The Center Square) – Two months after Mark McCloskey and his wife, Patricia, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and harassment charges, Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson partially fulfilled a campaign promise on Tuesday by pardoning the couple.
McCloskey, now a Republican candidate for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, and his wife waved firearms at protestors on June 28, 2020. The protestors were walking toward the home of Lyda Krewson, who was Mayor of St. Louis at the time. Nine protestors were issued summonses for trespassing on a private street, but the city later declined to prosecute them.
During his campaign to be elected governor, Parson was asked in a radio interview if he would pardon the McCloskeys if they were convicted.
“By all means, I would, and I think that’s exactly what would happen,” Parson said on KFTK on July 20, 2020. “… if this is all about going after them because they … did a lawful act, then, yeah, if that scenario in fact happened, I don’t think they’re going to spend any time in jail.”
St. Louis Circuit attorney Kimberly M. Gardner charged the couple with felonies. She also added information about the charges to her re-election campaign literature. She was later disqualified and former U.S. attorney Richard Callahan was appointed special prosecutor and negotiated the plea agreements.
McCloskey expressed appreciation for Parson’s pardon in a statement released by his campaign.
“As many of you know, Patty and I faced political prosecution for having the audacity to defend our lives and property from an angry mob,” McCloskey said. “Today we are incredibly thankful that Gov. Mike Parson righted this wrong and granted us pardons. It was actually Gov. Parson who, while serving as a state Senator, led the charge to pass the Castle Doctrine – guaranteeing Missourians the right to defend themselves with all necessary force.”
McCloskey criticized Gardner’s office and urged the Missouri legislature to pass additional laws to prevent a prosecutor from confiscating firearms as part of an investigation.
“In our case, the Circuit Attorney raided our home a year ago and seized the guns we used to protect ourselves,” McCloskey said in the statement. “We are calling on the General Assembly to protect Missourians’ constitutional rights and pass legislation fixing this broken piece of law. We are eager to help Governor Parson and our state legislators do whatever it takes to strengthen Missouri’s Castle Doctrine.”
Several Democrat leaders criticized Parson’s action.
“The governor is using his pardoning powers for political victories, not the restoration of justice,” Sen. Steven Roberts, D-St. Louis and minority caucus whip, said in a statement. “Mark and Patricia McCloskey have made their way to the top of the pardon list. Meanwhile, Missourians such as Kevin Strickland, Lamar Johnson and Eric Clemmons remain wrongfully imprisoned after several decades. It’s a missed opportunity.”
In a social media posting with a similar statement, House minority leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, criticized the action.
“If you plead guilty to a crime and need a pardon from Gov. Parson, just be a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate,” Quade wrote. “If you’re innocent and locked up like Kevin Strickland or Lamar Johnson, chances are Gov. Parson can’t be bothered. Is pardoning McCloskey an endorsement from Gov. Parson?”