Draft report says Missouri’s House speaker stymied ethics investigation into his spending

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri ethics panel is at an impasse over reported misconduct by the powerful state House speaker, who allegedly used his office to stymie an investigation into his actions.

A draft of the Ethics Committee report recommended that the House formally denounce actions taken by Republican Speaker Dean Plocher that “substantially impair public confidence in the General Assembly.”


Committee members voted 6-2 against the report but made it publicly available Monday. Another Ethics Committee hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Plocher did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press on Tuesday.

At issue are complaints that Plocher last year tried to use his influence as speaker to get the House to contract with a company for a new constituent services program called Fireside.

Fireside’s parent company, FiscalNote, had hired Bardgett and Associates lobbyists in an attempt to win a $776,000 two-year contract with the House, independent investigator Beth Boggs wrote in a March 1 report. Plocher worked as a lawyer at the Blitz, Bardgett and Deutsch law firm.

Plocher also faces allegations that he improperly requested taxpayer dollars to pay for a business-class ticket on a flight to Hawaii and expenses for several other work trips dating back to 2018.

Plocher admitted he accepted reimbursements for the travel expenses both from the state and from his political campaign, which is against Missouri law. He has since repaid the state about $4,000.

The Ethics Committee struggled to investigate claims about Plocher’s dealings with Fireside.

Boggs in a March 1 letter to the committee said she hit a roadblock because witnesses, including Plocher, refused to speak to her.

“The level of fear expressed by a number of the potential witnesses is a daunting factor in completing this investigation,” Boggs wrote.

When the Ethics Committee sought approval from the speaker, Plocher, to force witnesses to testify through subpoenas, he refused, according to the report.

The draft report alleges that Plocher, as the speaker, has blocked payment of the independent investigator hired by the House to investigate him. In total, the investigation cost about $17,000 to complete.

Contractors have not been paid, according to the draft report, because the speaker’s approval is necessary.

Missouri lawmakers have about a month left of the 2024 legislative session.

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