JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A committee established by outgoing House Speaker Tim Jones to investigate “pay-to-play” allegations against Attorney General Chris Koster is set to have its first meeting next Monday.
Jones announced the formation of the “House Oversight Committee on Public Officials and Government Accountability” last month not long after a New York Times article implied that Koster had halted investigations into companies that had donated to his campaigns.
Jones’ committee, which is now called the “Bipartisan Investigatory Committee to Ensure Accountability and Integrity of Missouri’s Public Officials” on the House website. The committee is chaired by Rep. Jay Barnes, but may not make as many waves as Jones is hoping.
The Missouri Times confirmed with several members that they learned of their appointment to the committee through the media, and two members of the committee, Vice Chair Rep. Stanley Cox and Rep. Chris Kelly, will both be leaving office in January.
House Speaker-elect John Diehl’s office confirmed that he is under no legal obligation to renew Jones’ committee when a new legislative session begins in January or to fill vacancies caused by departing members. Diehl’s office did not comment on how they planned on handling the committee under his tenure.
A committee member, who asked not to be identified, said that Koster planned to attend the Monday hearing, and indicated that the committee could very well become a springboard for a broader discussion on ethics reform in 2015.
Cox said he was away from his computer for most of the day and learned of the first hearing when contacted by the media. Cox said that, other than scheduling the first hearing, he’d had very minimal discussions about what the committee will be doing. While the first day is slated to hear testimony, Cox said he expected little the first day as members get organized.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.