U.S. Attorney's Office Receives Letter Asking for Investigation - KOAM TV 7

U.S. Attorney's Office Receives Letter Asking for Investigation of Joplin Senator

Joplin, MO -

A local state senator might be investigated by federal officials after accepting a contribution.  A government watchdog group has filed a complaint against Ron Richard, who represents Jasper and Newton counties.

The watchdog group, and some state legislators, contend Richard should not have accepted a donation from a Joplin-based company that manufactures shingles.  

The $100,000 contribution came six days after Richard introduced legislation that would impact class action suits and change consumer protections.  TAMKO happens to be in the midst of a lawsuit regarding the warranty of their shingles.  The watchdog group "Campaign for Accountability" contends it's no coincidence.  Missouri State Representative Mark Ellebracht  says he investigated why Richard proposed the legislation.

"If that doesn't strike the average Missourian as being inappropriate, then I don't know what does," says Ellebracht.

Richard was recently questioned about the bill in Jefferson City, when a reporter asked about questions another legislator raised over the Senate bill.

"He can kiss my ass," said Richard.  "Let me tell you something.  Number one, I don't even like the question.  Number two, there has been no (other) ethical person in this building, who's been the speaker, the president, the majority leader, than me.  So be careful what questions you ask."

In a less colorful statement to us, Richard said, "It's unfortunate, but it's getting all too common for these types of baseless allegations to spread in this building.  These allegations are reckless and not true, and they will not deter me from doing the work of the people."

TAMKO responded to our request for an interview with a letter from their attorney, which said, "Mr. Humphreys exercised his constitutional right to donate money to political campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats."

TAMKO's attorney also warned us.

"The prudent path is for KOAM to avoid repeating any specific unfounded allegations against Mr. Humphreys that has the potential to improperly damage the reputations of Mr. Humphreys and TAMKO."

"I'm surprised at the number of people who have been here in Jefferson City for a while, both Democrat and Republican, who looked at this and regarded it as some old politics that have been played in Jefferson City all the time," says Ellebracht.  "It's clearly not.  I think it's a big reason why so many Missourians are very frustrated with our state government right now."

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office confirmed to us today that they did receive a letter from the government watchdog group, asking for an investigation.  However, the attorney's office will not say if they have interest in the case.


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