Political newcomer Vivek Malek, a Republican, took the oath
of office as Missouri treasurer on Tuesday, becoming the first person of color
to hold statewide office in Missouri after more than two centuries since the
state joined the union.
He will fill the role previously held by Scott Fitzpatrick,
who was sworn in as state auditor earlier this month. Malek, 45, previously
owned and operated his own law firm in Wildwood, a St. Louis suburb. Malek was
born and raised in India. He immigrated to Cape Girardeau in 2001 to attend
Southeast Missouri State University with just $300 in his pocket and took a
graduate assistant position to help pay his tuition, he said Tuesday.
in Kansas City Dozens of Malek’s family members, friends and
former clients packed into the Missouri House chambers in Jefferson City to
attend his swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. Two buses — one from St. Louis, one
from Kansas City — shuttled them there. “This is a proud moment for
Missourians, for everybody, for Americans, for all of us — especially people
who have migrated to this country and made this country their home,” Malek told
reporters. “This is a matter of pride for them and I share that pride with them
Malek’s wife Riju and
the couple’s three children were in the crowd for the ceremony. Republican Gov.
Mike Parson appointed Malek to the position last month, touting Malek’s life
story as an embodiment of the American dream. Parson said he picked Malek
because of his intelligence and because he felt he would put Missourians before
himself, “Some people will say it had a lot to do with color. Some people will
say a lot of other reasons why somebody gets picked when it comes to me,”
Parson said Tuesday.
“It’s about, ‘Are you a man of faith? Are you a family man?
Do you believe in this country? And, are you willing to work hard?’... Vivek
checked every one of those boxes.” The state treasurer serves as Missouri’s
chief financial officer and is tasked with protecting state funds from fraud
and abuse. The position manages the state’s revenue, oversees the disbursement
of funds and handles the state’s more than $6 billion investment portfolio.
Previous state treasurers have also used the office as a pathway to higher
Senator-elect Eric Schmitt served as treasurer before Parson
appointed him as attorney general in 2018. And, most recently, Fitzpatrick was
elected auditor after serving as treasurer since 2019. Malek previously said he
plans to run for a full term in 2024. Parson has said it was important to pick
someone he felt would stay in the position and he would support Malek in that
Missouri state law prohibits treasurers from running for
more than one additional term if they’ve held the position for more than two
years of a term. Because Malek will hold the office for less than two years, he
will be able to run for two full terms. Malek has practiced law in Missouri
since 2006, focusing mainly on legal immigration litigation and business
immigration consulting. He formed his own firm, the Law Offices of Vivek Malek,
Malek told he would no longer practice at his firm. “I am a
full time treasurer of the state,” he said. He holds a bachelor’s degree and
law degree from Mahrishi Dayanand University in Rohtak, India. He also has a
master’s degree from Southeast Missouri State University and a master’s of law
degree from the University of Illinois College of Law, according to the
This also isn’t the first time Parson has tapped Malek for a
position. In 2020, the governor appointed Malek to the Southeast Missouri State
University Board of Governors, where he focused on fiscal responsibility. Malek
resigned from that position effective at noon Tuesday, Tonya Wells, the
school’s assistant vice president of marketing and communications.