House Speaker Ron Richard says recent charges filed against former Speaker Rod Jetton disappoint his fellow Republicans in the House, but won’t affect  the upcoming legislative session.

Richard, a Republican from Joplin, says the mood at House Republican Caucus meetings last week was a bit down.

“I think they’re a little bit disappointed with recent news,” Richard tells the Missourinet, alluding to charges filed against former Speaker Jetton.

Jetton has been charged with assaulting a woman during an episode of rough sex in Sikeston. Jetton, a Republican from Marble Hill, turned himself in to authorities in Cole County last week after a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Jetton closed his political consulting firm to concentrate on his defense, according to his attorney. Many Republicans had hired Jetton, who received a lot of credit for the Republican gains that led to their take-over of the House in 2002. Jetton served as Speaker Pro Tem under Speaker Catherine Hanaway and was elected Speaker after Hanaway stepped down in an unsuccessful run for statewide office. He left office due to term limits.

Though Republicans might be disappointed about the charges leveled against Jetton, they are excited about getting back to work at the Capitol next month, according to Richard.

“I think they’re pretty optimistic. I think they’re ready to get started,” Richard says. “I think they see an opportunity where they can actually maybe help the regular person.”

As for the charges filed against the former Speaker, Richard doesn’t see it having an impact.

“I just don’t think it’s an issue,” Richard says. “I think our members understand that if somebody transgresses they will pay a price personally and professionally and we’ll let that go where it goes.”

Richard says House leadership will let the authorities do their job without interference.

Legislators return to the Capitol in Jefferson City next month for the new legislative session.

Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)

Download Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)