Politics & Government

Missouri lawmakers plead guilty, resign over campaign finance probe

Two lawmakers from the St. Louis area resigned Tuesday from the Missouri General Assembly after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice charges in connection with a federal campaign finance investigation.

Freshman Democratic state Sen. Jeff Smith — viewed by many as a rising star in political circles — pleaded guilty to two federal counts of obstruction of justice tied to his failed 2004 congressional campaign.

Democratic state Rep. Steve Brown, who served as an aide to Smith in the 2004 campaign, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to obstruct justice. Brown also was serving his first term in office.

"It is regrettable that two public servants, who had promising careers, involved themselves in this kind of situation," said state Democratic Party spokesman Ryan Hobart.

In a letter of apology to supporters, Smith admitted that he lied to Federal Election Commission investigators about an independent effort to benefit his congressional campaign, a race narrowly won by Democrat Russ Carnahan, who still holds the seat. Carnahan is the son of former Gov. Mel Carnahan and U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan.

Federal law prohibits any coordination between a congressional campaign and outside, independent efforts on behalf of that campaign.

To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.

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