A government watchdog group filed a complaint Wednesday asking federal prosecutors to investigate pay-to-play allegations against Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard.
The Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Accountability filed a complaint with Tom Larson, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, requesting an investigation into whether Richard violated federal law by accepting a $100,000 contribution from a donor just days after filing legislation that would have affected a lawsuit against that donor’s company.
Richard, a Joplin Republican, released a statement steadfastly denying any accusations of wrongdoing.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s getting all too common for these types of baseless allegations to spread in this building,” he said. “These allegations are reckless and not true, and they will not deter me from doing the work of the people.”
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The donor, Joplin businessman David Humphreys, has also denied doing anything illegal.
But Dan Stevens, executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, said the situation “begs for a grand jury investigation.”
“It’s a crime for elected officials to accept benefits in exchange for official action,” he said.
Humphreys’ company, Tamko Building Products, was sued in 2014 under the state consumer protection law on claims that it sold defective shingles. The company denies the charge.
The next year, Richard filed legislation that would limit plaintiffs’ ability to sue individually or in class-action lawsuits under the state consumer protection law. He’s has filed similar legislation each year since. Last December, he refiled the bill. Six days later, Humphreys cut him a check for $100,000.
In a letter to The Star last week, an attorney representing Humphreys said the check was written that day simply because voter-imposed contribution limits were set to kick in the next day. It had nothing to do with the legislation, the lawyer wrote.
He called the allegations against Humphreys “false and defamatory.”
Humphreys and his family have given millions in political contributions to Missouri Republicans in recent years, including doling out more than $14 million to various candidates and committees in 2016.
State Rep. Mark Ellebracht, a Liberty Democrat, garnered attention after he wrote a letter to Richard last month demanding more details on his relationship with Humphreys. And last week, state Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, told KCUR’s “Statehouse Blend” that the situation warrants the attention of law enforcement.