Eslinger ultimately won the primary, defeating Ross and a third opponent, former state Rep. Van Kelly.
“I think the optics are horrible,” Rep. Peter Merideth, a St. Louis Democrat on the investigative committee, said of the contribution. “Literally working against the campaign of the person that’s investigating has a bad look of guilt.”
“Sure smells off,” he added.
Lawmakers grilled Fraker and other top marijuana program regulators for hours during a series of hearings earlier this year.
In March, Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, sharply criticized Fraker, saying that whether it was his “ignorance or confusion or incompetence, Director Fraker clearly didn’t have the experience needed in the position.”
Lawmakers blasted the Parson administration’s decision to hire a third-party scorer to “blindly” grade applications from marijuana businesses — a process that appeared to be not so blind after companies were allowed to submit their own facility identification numbers, which often…