Opinion: FBI launches inquiries into alleged public corruption in Missouri
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The Show-Me State promises to continue unveiling more public corruption cases, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation officials.
It’s been quite a week already. State Rep. Steve Brown and state Sen. Jeff Smith, both Democrats, resigned their seats after pleading guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and attempting to obstruct the Federal Election Commission.
The agency was investigating allegations of campaign wrongdoings in the 2004 Congressional Democratic primary to fill the empty seat left open after U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt retired. Smith, 35, ran against Russ Carnahan in the primary. Carnahan narrowly won the primary and later won the election.
Brown, 42, was an assistant attorney general on leave who was helping out his friend, Smith.
Brown raised funds for a negative ad campaign approved by Smith -- one that was to distribute fliers and pamphlets by Voters for Truth, supposedly an independent group. Carnahan’s campaign later submitted a complaint with the FEC, saying that the group wasn’t actually independent and that there was illegal coordination between the group and Smith’s campaign.
The arrests of Brown and Smith -- and the charges they faced outlined in this FBI press release -- had the local FBI office hinting that this is only the beginning. John Gillies, the FBI special agent in charge of the St. Louis office, told local media this week that his office had numerous active cases investigating public corruption.
Details, of course, were limited. All he’d say is that the agency looks into corruption claims connected to elected officials, contracts, regulatory agencies, law enforcement officials and the judiciary -- and that his eastern Missouri office had active cases in four of these five categories.
Could be a busy autumn …
-- P.J. Huffstutter