JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s new Attorney General Andrew Bailey officially took office Tuesday during an inaugural ceremony at the state Supreme Court.
Missouri Eastern District Appeals Court Judge Kelly Broniec swore Bailey in as his family flanked him.
Bailey previously worked as the attorney for the Governor’s Office under Parson. The 41-year-old has never held elected office before and is the third attorney general since 2018. The two previous attorneys general, Schmitt and Josh Hawley, have been elected to serve in Washington, D.C., in the U.S. Senate.
“I really want some stability in the attorney general’s office,” Parson said Tuesday. “I’ve had the personal privilege of working with Andrew, for going through some of the toughest times in our state, understanding what he is not only for a general counsel, not only as a legal mind, but who he is as an individual.”
Bailey is no stranger to the attorney general’s office. After attending the University of Missouri Law School following two tours to Iraq in response to the 9/11 attacks, he was hired at the attorney general’s office, working in civil litigation and defending the state’s criminal justice system.
During the ceremony Tuesday, Bailey said his background as an army veteran and as an attorney will help him in his new role.
“I will lead this office with the same steady hand and unyielding pursuit of victory,” Bailey said. “My personal history guides me and shapes who I am. Having training and the tools to be successful matters.”
Bailey worked under Attorney General Chris Koster for a couple of years before moving to the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office as an assistance prosecutor. That’s where Bailey and his wife became foster parents and ended up adopting three kids out of the system.
Missouri’s attorney general is responsible for defending state laws against court challenges, prosecuting some criminal cases, and enforcing laws on consumer protection and government transparency.
Bailey on Tuesday told reporters he plans to continue efforts to shut down Agape Boarding School, a private Christian school in southwest Missouri where several staffers have been charged with felony and misdemeanor abuse.
As the state’s top prosecutor, Bailey said he is currently reviewing ongoing cases and plans to follow in Schmitt’s footsteps by challenging the Biden administration.
“I’m not here to start dismissing lawsuits, we’re going to continue to push back against President Biden’s illicit federal overreached and we’re going to look for new opportunities to do that in the coming days,” Bailey said.
He also wants to focus on addressing crime by making sure prosecutors across the state are doing their job.
“Violent crime is a top priority, and we’ve got to get it under control,” Bailey said. “The attorney general’s office stands ready to assist under the statues provided that are in effect today and that the General Assembly may deem appropriate.”
Bailey touted himself as a constitutional conservative devoted to following the law, whether that be to enforce public access to their government or crack down on cities that take a lenient stance on unhoused people living on the streets, per a new law.
The law, which took effect Sunday, prohibits homeless people from sleeping on state land without permission and gives the attorney general the authority to sue cities that don’t enforce the law.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) said previously after Bailey’s appointed that she wants integrity restored in the office and a leader who puts Missourians first.
Later this month, Missouri’s new State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick and Treasurer Vivek Malek will be sworn into office. Malek was appointed treasurer after Fitzpatrick was elected auditor by voters in November.
Malek was the fifth statewide appointment Parson has made since becoming governor, the most in state history.