The Missouri House Ethics Committee has made-public its months-long investigation linked to complaints against House Speaker Dean Plocher regarding allegations of ethical misconduct. But not before rejecting the report and its recommendations to revise chamber and committee rules.

The bipartisan committee investigated nine counts, which included allegations of false expense reports, contract irregularities, staff firings, and retaliatory threats.

The report details how Plocher received state funds for travel expenses that he was already reimbursed for. Five reimbursement forms, with a total of eight separate repayments were identified that also appeared on the Plocher for Missouri campaign finance reports. The committee, however, received no evidence indicating it was a willful or intentional act instead of an oversight.

The complaint also deals with the consideration of a proposed contract for out-sourcing constituent management services. According to the attached documents, an unspecified number of witnesses referenced that Plocher was allegedly going to benefit financially through a large campaign donation for this contract, while receiving a quid pro quo for the proposal.

The report talks about retaliatory threats but the specifics are not contained in the report, nor could they find any direct evidence implicating Plocher. Chief Clerk Dana Radamen Miller testified about working in an environment that she felt was “toxic.” She also wrote in an email to a Republican lawmaker about “threats” allegedly made by Plocher concerning her future employment. Other alleged threats were directed towards unspecified staff regarding the expenses.

In the “obstruction of the investigation” part of the report, a witness provided evidence of the difficulty of the committee and the investigator to obtain testimony. She related her belief that her employment could be in jeopardy for testifying before the committee. Other witnesses indicated they would not voluntarily appear before the committee, but would comply with a subpoena.

The committee’s special counsel retained to assist with the investigation was forced to conclude her investigation without speaking to several witnesses.

“I have not encountered more unwilling witnesses in any investigation in my career,” the report concludes. “The level of fear expressed by a number of the potential witnesses is a daunting factor in completing this investigation.”

Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, who chairs the House committee, addressed the media afterwards, over Plocher’s alleged “obstruction” of the investigation, preventing witnesses from being able to testify.

“We sought subpoenas, and you’ll see in the report in the appendix that there’s much protest to that,” Kelly said. “You know, the House Rules are not structured to investigate the Speaker.”

For that reason, one recommendation is to change the committee’s rules to allow the group to investigate the speaker.

A frustrated Kelly made the report public over mounting public pressure.

“To be quite frank with you, I am being attacked for my decisions here, which is fine, that’s a part of leadership, but when the respondent’s lawyer said what he said, the more I thought about it over the weekend,” she said. “The more I thought, well, I checked into the rules, made sure that that was an option on the table, and that’s what we did.”

Despite not consulting her committee members beforehand, she chose to issue the report and she feels like she did her “best” to honor the process and facts in front of her.

“I believe, by keeping the hearing open today, everything that we previously addressed is being addressed,” Kelly said. “You know when you go hours on end in a confidential meeting and then, again, no disrespect, but you walk out and stuff’s in the paper, it’s kind of, you know, gets you thinking what in the world’s going on. So, that played into my decision.”

Only two committee members voted in favor of adopting the report, Vice Chair Rep. Robert Sauls, D-Independence, and Chairwoman Kelly.

Reps. Jerome Barnes, John Black, Paula Brown, Rick Francis, David Tyson Smith, and Marlene Terry voted no, with Rep. Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway not voting and Rep. Mike McGirl not in attendance.

Plocher, a Republican who is running for Missouri Secretary of State, is not commenting on the investigation.


  • A Letter of Reproval be issued to Plocher expressing disapproval of the appropriateness of his conduct
  • That no member or employee in the House of Representatives be retaliated against or suffer any repercussions for providing assistance to the Ethics Committee in this matter
  • That the Committee recommends that Plocher engage in the assistance of an accounting professional regarding the operation of the 700 account.

According to the rules, Plocher will be given 72-hours to object, in writing, to the committee’s recommendations.

The committee additionally recommends that the House review and revise the House Rules and Ethics Committee rules:

  • To clarify that the Speaker Pro Tem has the authority to issue subpoenas at the request of the Ethics Committee in the event the Speaker, or a member of the Speaker’s staff is involved as a complainant, respondent, victim or witness in an ethics matter.
  • To provide the Ethics Committee with sufficient authority under the House Rules to review an allegation of misconduct involving the Speaker or a member of the Speaker’s staff, and to conduct an appropriate and thorough investigation of any such alleged misconduct, and further to act on new information on alleged misconduct received in the course of the committee’s investigation, including obstruction of the committee’s investigation.
  • Adopt a policy protecting House employees from retaliation for any conduct, or for providing testimony or other assistance to the committee.
  • Revise and strengthen its policy protecting House employees from any unlawful harassment under state or federal law.
  • The committee believes that apparent inconsistencies in the Rules of the House and the House Policy Handbook need to be reviewed and revised, as such inconsistencies contributed to tensions in the workplace.

The report will be filed in the House of Representatives, with a copy delivered to the office of the Speaker, office of the Majority Floor Leader, and office of the Minority Floor Leader, and be printed in the House Journal.

Since the report was rejected by committee members, the next steps of the investigation are unknown at this time. At the time of the publishing of this article, the committee is still scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.

To view the report, click HouseEthicsComplaint.

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