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Ethics investigation into Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher continues next week

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Ethics investigation into Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher continues next week

Nov 27, 2023 | 6:11 pm ET
By Jason Hancock
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Ethics investigation into Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher continues next week
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House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, motions to be recognized to speak during the 2021 legislative session (Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications).

The Missouri House Ethics Committee will reconvene for a third time next week for a closed-door hearing into allegations of misconduct by Speaker Dean Plocher. 

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Dec. 6. The public notice says the committee will discuss a “personnel inquiry” and an ethics complaint

Though it doesn’t mention his name, the hearing’s focus is Plocher.

The inquiry was launched after The Independent reported last month that Plocher on numerous occasions illegally sought reimbursement from the legislature for airfare, hotels and other travel costs already paid for by his campaign. 

The revelation followed weeks of scrutiny surrounding Plocher’s unsuccessful push to award a contract to a company to manage constituent information and a decision to fire his chief of staff. 

Records show Dean Plocher charged the state for travel already paid for by his campaign

Plocher, a Republican from Des Peres running for lieutenant governor, has flatly denied any wrongdoing, chalking up false expense reports to a “checkbook error.” He paid back the illegal reimbursements, saying he and his wife — who is also his campaign treasurer — caught the mistakes and self-reported them. 

But though the false reports went back years, Plocher didn’t begin making repayments until two weeks after The Independent submitted a Sunshine request seeking his expense reports.

Proceedings of the committee are confidential, and none of the discussions, testimony or evidence gathered is public until a report is issued. The 10-member committee is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

Plocher’s troubles spilled out into the public in September, when he was accused of threatening to fire nonpartisan legislative staff as part of a push to get the House to award a lucrative contract to a private company to manage constituent information. 

Records obtained by The Independent through the Missouri Sunshine Law document allegations that Plocher connected the success of the contract the 2024 campaign — in which he is running for lieutenant governor — and engaged in “unethical and perhaps unlawful conduct.”

The saga has garnered attention from federal law enforcement, with the FBI attending the September legislative hearing where the contract was discussed and voted down.

The FBI, which investigates public corruption, has also interviewed several individuals about Plocher.  

A few weeks later, The Independent revealed that Plocher filed false expense reports with the legislature going back to 2018 seeking reimbursement for costs already paid for by his campaign. 

Submitting false expense reports could be prosecuted as stealing from the state, a class A misdemeanor. It could also be considered false declaration, a class B misdemeanor that involves knowingly submitting any written false statement. The House speaker could also have run afoul of laws prohibiting campaign contributions from being converted to personal use.