Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Democratic Leaders Say They Won't Ask Moriarty to Resign

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Democratic Leaders Say They Won't Ask Moriarty to Resign

Article excerpt

Democratic leaders said Wednesday that they won't ask Secretary of State Judith K. Moriarty to resign, but they want her to deal swiftly with misdemeanor charges that she broke state election laws to benefit her son.

House Speaker Bob F. Griffin of Cameron said Moriarty, a Democrat, is "entitled to have her day in court, and nobody should prejudge her."

Senate President Pro Tem James Mathewson said Moriarty "believes she's innocent. If she's innocent, she ought to stay" in office and fight the charges. Mathewson is from Sedalia, as is Moriarty.

Moriarty pleaded innocent Tuesday to a two-count indictment that said she allowed her son, Tim, to file for a state House seat "in absentia," and that she later tampered with public records to indicate that her son had filed his candidacy in person, as the law requires. Both crimes are misdemeanors, punishable by fines and jail terms.

Roger Brown, one of Moriarty's lawyers, said he hopes the trial can begin in August or early September in Cole County Circuit Court. He expects no plea-bargaining.

"The only negotiation is outright dismissal" of the charges, Brown said.

If convicted of either crime, Moriarty would forfeit her post as the state's top elections official. State law says public officials lose their offices if convicted "of a crime involving misconduct in office or dishonesty."

Brown said the ouster provision would be triggered when Moriarty exhausted her appeals.

Gov. Mel Carnahan, also a Democrat, would appoint Moriarty's successor if the office became vacant.

Carnahan said Wednesday that he had urged Moriarty to take "internal, substantive steps" to restore confidence in her office. He said he did not specify what those steps should be but "should she not be able to do that, she ought to look at resigning."

The governor sought to differentiate Moriarty's indictment from the federal charges brought last year against then-Attorney General William Webster, a Republican. …

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