Diehl says FBI has not talked to him; others have been asked whether he influenced contract
The FBI has apparently been questioning some public officials and other potential sources of information about whether former Missouri House Speaker John Diehl used any influence in the awarding of a Jackson County contract.
Diehl, who is a Republican from Town and Country, said late Tuesday that he has not been contacted by the FBI. He declined further comment.
However, the consultant whose firm had been awarded the contract – former Democratic aide Brittany Burke – said she had been questioned by the law-enforcement agency several weeks ago. Diehl and Burke have confirmed they were involved in a relationship for several months in early 2014, but they have not been together in more than a year.
Burke said she told the FBI that the contract had been obtained through a standard bidding process. It was awarded late last year. She said in an interview that the FBI told her that she was not a target of their probe.
Another person, who asked not to be identified, also told St. Louis Public Radio of being interviewed by the FBI about Diehl.
Two Jackson County legislators (the equivalent of council members) involved in the awarding of the contract told the Kansas City Star that they had told the FBI that the contract, reportedly worth up to $75,000, was awarded to Burke on the basis of merit. Her firm submitted the lowest bid, and she had done similar work for other groups.
According to the Star, the contract involved providing information to the county on how to implement some of the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act, which deals with health care issues and insurance coverage.
The legislators praised Burke’s work.
The Star reported that both officials told the FBI they had no contact with Diehl.
Diehl, a lawyer, stepped down as House speaker in May amid a controversy over texts of a sexual nature that he had been exchanging with a 19-year-old college intern.
Spokespeople for the St. Louis branch of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri told St. Louis Public Radio that the Department of Justice prohibits them from confirming or denying the existence of an investigation.