Green apologizes over claims of bribery; committee may again hold hearings | St. Louis Public Radio

Green apologizes over claims of bribery; committee may again hold hearings

Feb 19, 2016

Updated 3 p.m. Feb. 19 with Green's statement - Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green on Friday apologized to Alderman Sam Moore in an ongoing dispute over allegations of bribery.

"I have come to understand that he felt personally attacked by my comments," Green said. "My only intent was to refer to his testimony from the Dec. 11 Ways and Means meeting. I felt that his personal experience lent credibility to some of the other things I thought were going on."

She refused to apologize to the board as a whole for comments she made about the way aldermen conduct business.

"We must not be afraid to look in the mirror and recognize that we can always improve," Green said. "It is possible to love the people you serve with while also critiquing the system in which we operate."

Alderman Joe Roddy objected to Green using a full board meeting to make her statements.

"If she wanted to have this discussion we'll go ahead and bring the resolution back up in the [Personnel] committee," he said.

Alderman Marlene Davis, who would chair any hearing, said she was willing to give Green that forum.

"The apology is fine, but when you get into the critiquing of the board and what our process and procedure should be, this is not the appropriate setting for it," she said.

Our original story - An investigation into allegations that members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen accepted bribes has ended, for now.

The board's Personnel Committee on Wednesday chose not to advance a resolution asking them to probe the claims made by Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green, of the 15th Ward. She declined an invitation to explain her remarks to the committee, and there was little appetite to force her appearance via subpoena.

"I don't know what else we can do to try to get to the bottom of this without the alderwoman and her specific facts and knowledge of the allegations," said Alderman Marlene Davis, the 19th Ward Democrat who chaired the meeting in place of President Lewis Reed. "But I don’t believe the public needs to have to go through this again. We have a lot of work to do."

The allegations

Green first claimed she had witnessed bribery right after the stadium funding plan cleared the Ways and Means committee on Dec. 10 -- a crucial step. 

"I have a person who is very close to me who was offered a political favor if that person could get me to come off my stance in opposition to the stadium," Green told St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum. "I imagine if that it is happening to me, it's happening to others at the Board of Aldermen."

She would later imply that Alderman Sam Moore, the 4th Ward Democrat, accepted coats for his "Breakfast with Santa" drive in exchange for his support of the stadium. It's an allegation Moore denies fiercely - he says he voted "yes" after he and Alderman Antonio French were able to secure record minority participation levels for the project.

Ald. Sam Moore addresses the city's Personnel and Administration committee on Feb. 17, 2016.
Credit Wiley Price | St. Louis American

"I'm an elder in the church, as well as an alderman in the city of St. Louis, and I feel like my reputation has been tarnished," Moore told the committee on Wednesday, echoing remarks he's made before. "My people are suffering, and if you perceive getting jobs for my people as being a bribe, so be it. I'm going to continue to fight for the forgotten people. I think Ms. Green has taken it a bit too far. She needs to back up, give me an apology, and let's move on."

It was Green's continued insistence that something unsavory had happened that seemed to irritate her colleagues the most, especially since her statements continued after a joint investigation by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI determined that there was "no substance to her allegations."

"When I initially read it on social media, my initial reaction was that someone got frustrated with how a vote turned out," said Alderman Joe Roddy, who represents the 17th Ward. "I thought it would be a passing thing. I was somewhat shocked when I read a press release that kind of doubled down on the whole thing. Up to that point, I wasn't particularly offended."

Green's attorney, Matthew Carroll-Schmidt, said the alderwoman did not feel comfortable testifying to the committee. He did not comment on any of the allegations she has made.

Also on Wednesday, the city's budget committee approved legislation that would repeal the funding plan at the center of the bribery allegations.

"In light of the fact that the Rams are no longer here, and the NFL’s obvious disdain for the city of St. Louis, I think it’s the responsible thing to do to take that off the books at this time," said 6th Ward Democrat Christine Ingrassia.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann