ST. LOUIS – A recent television ad released by U.S. Senate Candidate Lucas Kunce takes aim at the involvement of another U.S. Senate candidate in an annual ball that took place in 1977.  

Trudy Busch Valentine was crowned “queen of love and beauty” by the Veiled Prophet ball that year.  The television spot criticizes her involvement in an organization the ad calls, “an elite secret society, rooted in white supremacy.” 

The Veiled Prophet organization was formed in the late 1800s in response to a massive railroad worker strike involving many black workers in St. Louis. The secret society of wealthy, all-white, St. Louisans evolved over the years. The organization would go on to disavow bigotry and provide community support, including an annual fourth of July celebration.  

Busch Valentine responded with an ad of her own. The ad features a nurse who states, “Trudy has apologized. Her entire life has been fighting for justice and opportunity. As a nurse, Trudy cared for abused children and seniors in hospice. That’s why she’s endorsed by civil rights leaders and labor unions.” 

Kunce’s ad states Busch Valentine bowed to the veiled prophet and supported the ball for decades.  

Joe Cernik is the editor of the Missouri Policy Journal. He’s also the author of American Eclectic on Substack. He said he does not expect the ad exchange to cause any major shift in voters’ opinions. He said he is not surprised Busch Valentine responded.  

“She understood she had to respond,” said Cernik. He said letting Kunce’s ad go unanswered would have given the impression she was insensitive to the issue.  

A statement from the Kunce campaign reads:  

“Trudy Busch Valentine has refused to debate Lucas Kunce, and it’s now clear why,” said Connor Lounsbury, Deputy Campaign Manager. “She spent decades of her life involved in an organization rooted in white supremacy and has lied to voters about how recently she attended. This isn’t about the past, it’s about right now. We’re proud of the diverse grassroots movement we’ve built in this race. Democrats must be the ones who stand up to racism in all its forms.” 

Valentine’s campaign said it did not have any new comments on the issue beyond a statement released earlier this year: 

“I believe in the importance of working together and healing divisions and that starts with acknowledging my own past shortcomings,” Busch Valentine wrote in a statement to The Intercept. “I failed to fully grasp the situation. I should have known better, and I deeply regret and I apologize that my actions hurt others. My life and work are way beyond that, and as a candidate for Missouri’s next US Senator, I pledge to work tirelessly to be a force for progress in healing the racial divisions of our country.”