On a day clouded by ethical problems, the Missouri House opens a new session with a call to enact ethics reform.
House Speaker Ron Richard (R-Joplin) concentrates on ethics during his opening day address.
“We must never forget we sit in the people’s chamber and our sacred duty as their elected officials is the maintenance of the integrity and sanctity of the Missouri House of Representatives,” Richard tells fellow House members in his opening day remarks.
Richard, in consultation with House Minority Leader Paul LeVota (D-Independence), has appointed a Special Standing Committee on Government Accountability and Ethics Reform. Rep. Kevin Wilson (R-Neosho) will chair the committee which has been instructed to review the various ethics legislation proposed this session and boil them down into one version that can attract both Republican and Democratic support.
“Regardless of party affiliation we can all agree that the sanctity of this body is important,” Richard says. “From this point forward, we commit ourselves to gain and hold the faith that the people of Missouri have in their elected representatives.”
That faith might have been shaken somewhat by events this past year. In fact, even as Richard made his remarks, former Rep. Talibdin “T.D.” El-Amin, a St. Louis Democrat, was sentenced to a year-and-a-half in prison for bribery. El-Amin has also been ordered to pay $2,100 in restitution. In addition, former Speaker Rod Jetton pleaded not guilty to felony assault charges. Jetton, a Republican from Marble Hill, has been accused of assaulting a woman during an evening of rough sex at her Sikeston home November 15th. Former Sen. Jeff Smith, a Democrat from St. Louis, began the New Year by reporting to a federal prison in Kentucky. Smith lied to federal election authorities about his involvement in a political attack against St. Louis area Congressman Russ Carnahan during their 2004 Democratic congressional primary race. Former state Rep. Steve Brown, a fellow St. Louis Democrat, was placed on two years’ probation for helping Smith in the smear campaign against Carnahan.
Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)
House Speaker Ron Richard opening day speech. (6 min MP3)