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

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s Ethics Commission is at an impasse over reports of misconduct by the powerful state House speaker. The chairman allegedly used his office to obstruct an investigation into his conduct.

The Ethics Committee’s draft report recommended that the House formally condemn actions by Republican Speaker Dean Proscher that “seriously undermines the public’s confidence in the General Assembly.”

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Committee members voted 6-2 against the report, but released it on Monday. Another Ethics Commission hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

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

At issue are complaints that Mr. Proscher used his influence as speaker last year to try to get the House to contract with a new voter service program company called Fireside.

Fireside’s parent company, Fiscal Note, hired lobbyists from Burgett & Associates to secure a $776,000, two-year contract with the House of Representatives, independent investigator Beth Boggs said in a March 1 report. I wrote it in Plocher worked as an attorney at the Blitz, Berget & Deutsch law firm.

Plocher also faces allegations that he improperly requested payments from taxpayers for business class tickets to Hawaii and several other business trips dating back to 2018.

Plocher acknowledged accepting travel reimbursement from the state and his political activities, which violates Missouri law. He later repaid the state about $4,000.

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

In a March 1 letter to the committee, Boggs said she hit a roadblock when witnesses, including Plocher, refused to talk to her.

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

According to the report, when the Ethics Committee asked Chairman Plotcher for approval to compel witnesses to testify through subpoenas, Chairman Plotcher refused.

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The draft report alleges that as speaker, Mr. Plotcher blocked payments to independent investigators hired by the House to conduct his own investigation. In total, the study cost approximately $17,000 to complete.

According to the draft report, no remuneration was paid to the contractor as it required approval from the chairman.

There is about a month left in the Missouri General Assembly’s 2024 legislative session.

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