Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Politicians, Accuser Say Outcome May Deepen Cynicism of Public

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Politicians, Accuser Say Outcome May Deepen Cynicism of Public

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court's conviction of Secretary of State Judith K. Moriarty - resulting in Missouri's first removal of a statewide official - probably will deepen public cynicism about government.

That was the reaction Monday evening from some politicians, Moriarty's chief accuser and a former political opponent, to the court's decision upholding House impeachment of the secretary of state.

At the same time, some said Moriarty most likely was not perceived by the public as someone who deliberately violated the law, but rather as someone who did not know any better.

Attorney General Jay Nixon, who first investigated the secretary of state's office last spring, said the Moriarty case aggravated an already troubled situation.

"It's a challenging time for public officials all the way from school boards to the president of the United States," Nixon said. "Anything that feeds into the public cynicism makes it more difficult to get things done."

Gov. Mel Carnahan, who began questioning Moriarty's hold on the office in June, said the matter was a bad mark for Missouri.

Chris Sifford, a spokesman for the governor's office, said that having such news in the headlines day after day "hurts the credibility of all elected officials."

But Barbara Campbell, Moriarty's chief accuser, said while the public might be tempted to become more cynical, not all government officials should be compared with Moriarty.

"I tend to be an optimist," said Campbell, Moriarty's former aide who went public with problems in the office on June 21. "I hope that it does not cause people to be any more cynical than what they are right now. The problems in that office should not reflect on any other officeholder."

Campbell wept Monday when discussing her reaction to the court's decision. After coming forward with her story that Moriarty had improperly filed her son's candidacy for state office, she testified before a Cole County grand jury, a court jury, a Missouri House committee and finally the Supreme Court.

"It's a tremendous sense of relief that it has finally come to a conclusion," said Campbell, who still faces three charges in Cole County similar to the ones filed against Moriarty. …

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