A court fight is on between the Missouri House speaker, his chief of staff, and a longtime House staffer. House Chief Clerk Dana Rademan Miller has filed a lawsuit against Speaker Dean Plocher and his chief of staff, Rod Jetton, accusing them of retaliation, abuse of power, mismanagement, wasting the public’s money, and a variety of policy violations.

Miller’s accusations follow her pushing back on Plocher’s attempt to award a roughly $800,000 contract to a company he had connections with to handle constituent information — without going through the normal bidding process. Plocher was allegedly going to benefit financially through a large campaign donation for the contract.

In court documents filed, Miller said awarding the contract to the company, called Fireside, would have been a waste of money. The current data management system to handle constituent information was brand new.

On the steps of the Cole County Courthouse Friday, Miller said when she pushed back on Plocher’s effort, the relationship between him, her, and other House staffers began to sour.

“When the House HR officer can’t do her job to protect staff – and nor can I – that’s a problem,” she said.

Miller accused Plocher and Jetton of creating a culture of fear and retaliation.

“I care about that institution. I care about the House. I care about the people who work in the House and they just want to be able to do their jobs,” said Miller.

The court documents say there was a House staffing shakeup after some employees did not back Plocher’s pursuit with Fireside. He allegedly also targeted other House employees to be fired.

Miller has worked in state government for 31 years, with 23 years as a member of the House staff. She became chief clerk in 2018. Miller supervises eight nonpartisan administrative staff divisions.

“I feel diminished in my capacity, and I have been for months now, because of actions that were taken by the leadership of the House,” said Miller.

Miller plans to serve out the remainder of her term, and then step aside when it’s over in 2025.

“What I would like to see happen is that I take an oath when I was sworn in as clerk. I want to see our elected officials live up to the oath they take to follow the law, and to be respectful to the employees that work for them,” said Miller.

Miller is seeking financial damages of more than $25,000.

Plocher, who is running for Missouri Secretary of State, was also accused of accepting reimbursements on travel that had already been paid for by his campaign. This, coupled with the allegations of retaliation and fear, were part of a Missouri House Ethics Committee investigation for months. The committee ultimately rejected the report.

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.”

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 witnesses indicated they would not voluntarily appear before the committee, but would comply with a subpoena.

Plocher’s attorney gave Missourinet no comment.

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