Government & Politics

U.S. attorney clears Missouri GOP mega-donor of wrongdoing in pay-to-play controversy

David Humphreys.
David Humphreys.

Missouri Republican mega-donor David Humphreys is not and has never been the subject of a federal investigation, according to a personal letter his lawyer received from U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison earlier this month.

The Wall Street Journal reported, in part, the contents of the letter Thursday, and a Department of Justice spokesman confirmed the veracity of the report.

Justice Department policy is not to comment on ongoing investigations, or even to confirm or deny their existence, spokesman Don Ledford said, but the department does so in cases of public interest. The allegations against Humphreys were made publicly and have gained a lot of attention, so Garrison decided to send Humphreys a private correspondence letting him know he was not under investigation, Ledford said.

Humphreys came under fire last spring when he donated $100,000 to Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard six days after Richard filed legislation that would’ve weakened Missouri’s consumer protection law. TAMKO Building Products, Humphreys’ company, was facing a class-action lawsuit for shoddy shingles at the time.

The “pay for play” allegations against Humphreys have become an issue in U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s campaign against Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. The Senate Majority PAC released an ad called “Shingles” in June highlighting the financial relationship between the two men and accusing Hawley of failing to investigate the accusations as attorney general. Hawley is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination to challenge McCaskill in the fall.

“We will not comment on confidential legal memoranda,” said Ken Spain, a Humphreys spokesman. “... Claire McCaskill and her defenders have spent millions of dollars fabricating unsubstantiated attack ads targeting David Humphreys and now it has become clear that the underlying premise of her 2018 campaign is based on a lie.”

Hawley’s campaign spokeswoman, Kelli Ford, accused McCaskill of “trying to destroy the well-earned good reputation of a man who is keeping jobs in Missouri — just so she can get herself re-elected.”

McCaskill’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Humphreys and his family spent at least $2.5 million supporting Hawley in his successful 2016 run for attorney general. Humphreys has donated more than $139,000 to various committees backing Hawley for Senate in the last year, and he’s spent more than $15.5 million total on conservative causes since the start of 2016.

Last week, the Missouri House Democratic Committee held a news conference to reveal that Humphreys had sent them a cease and desist letter for criticizing him. Later that evening, he donated $1 million to the Missouri House Republicans.

His spokesman said the timing was not coincidental.

Missouri House Democrats said Thursday that Republican mega-donor David Humphreys issued a cease-and-desist letter for statements they made in a fundraising email and Facebook post that he'd "spent years buying off politicians."