St. Louis Public Radio News
8:22 am
Thu April 2, 2009

Mo. GOP House leaders say they didn't know about FBI probe

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri House Speaker Ron Richard (R, Joplin) and other Republican House leaders are denying any prior knowledge of an FBI probe into alleged pay-to-play schemes.

The Kansas City Star recently reported that three unidentified lawmakers had talked to the FBI.

The paper says the three claim that to get a bill heard or get a desired committee assignment, a lawmaker has to pay, usually in the form of a campaign contribution.

Richard told reporters Thursday that he absolutely does not engage in pay-to-play tactics when making committee assignments.

"I just go on how they've handled themselves around here, professionalism, their interests, seniority; I'm very particular on seniority," Richard said.

House Speaker Pro-tem Bryan Pratt (R, Blue Springs) says GOP leaders want lawmakers with any knowledge of pay-to-play activities to report them.

"If you're aware of a crime that's occurred in the House, it's your duty as a legislator to make a complaint to the House Ethics Committee, which Representative (Steven) Tilley (R, Perryville) chairs, or to the Missouri Ethics Commission...we certainly would not want any member of the House concealing illegal activity...if you're aware of it, report it," Pratt said.