Draft report suggests Missouri House speaker obstructed ethics inquiry regarding spending.

Jefferson City, Missouri — There has been no progress in an ethics panel's probe into allegations that the influential speaker of the Missouri state House obstructed an investigation into his alleged wrongdoing.  

According to an early version of the Ethics Committee's findings, Republican Speaker Dean Plocher's acts "substantially impair public confidence in the General Assembly," and the House should officially denounce them.  

Despite a 6-2 vote against the report, committee members made it public on Monday. On Wednesday, the Ethics Committee will hold another hearing.  reached out to Plocher for comment on Tuesday, but he did not immediately answer.  

Concerning a new constituent services program named Fireside, Plocher allegedly attempted to utilize his position as speaker to have the House contract with a firm last year.  

In a report dated March 1, independent investigator Beth Boggs stated that FiscalNote, the parent firm of Fireside, had retained the services of Bardgett and Associates lobbyists in their pursuit of a two-year contract with the House valued at $776,000 USD. The law firm of Blitz, Bardgett and Deutsch was Plocher's workplace.  

Several further work trips that Plocher took beginning in 2018 including a business-class ticket to Hawaii are allegedly funded by taxpayer monies that he misused. According to Plocher, it is against the law in Missouri to accept compensation for travel expenses from either the state or his political campaign. Since then, he has paid back about $4,000 to the state.  

Claims regarding Plocher's connections with Fireside were difficult for the Ethics Committee to evaluate. In her letter to the committee dated March 1, Boggs stated that she encountered a barrier due to the fact that witnesses, including Plocher, declined to engage with her.  

Boggs voiced concern about the level of anxiety indicated by several possible witnesses, which could hinder the completion of the inquiry. According to the report, Plocher declined to grant the Ethics Committee's request for permission to use subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify.  

According to the preliminary investigation, Plocher has allegedly prevented the House-hired independent investigator from receiving payment while he was speaker. The entire cost of the inquiry was approximately $17,000. The draft report states that contractors have not been paid as of yet due to the necessity of the speaker's permission. The 2024 legislative session is nearly over for Missouri lawmakers.  

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