Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bob Griffin, Three Allies Indicted

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bob Griffin, Three Allies Indicted

Article excerpt

Bob Griffin, a Democrat who served as speaker of the Missouri House longer than anyone, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Kansas City on charges of racketeering, accepting bribes and mail fraud.

Indicted with Griffin, 61, were three political allies:

* Cathryn Simmons, 50, a political consultant based in Kansas City. * Michael Fisher, 39, president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO. * Steven Hurst, 52, a lobbyist who worked in Jefferson City. The indictment accuses the four of taking part in schemes to get money from organizations or companies in return for Griffin's official acts as speaker. The charges dealt with Griffin's handling of bills in the Legislature, including a gasoline tax increase, highway construction bonds and health care reform. Another charge accuses Griffin of accepting a payment for removing a member from a committee that regulates hospital construction. The 26-count indictment says Griffin used his position to obtain $456,000 in consulting contracts for Simmons' companies. It says Simmons then turned over $61,000 of the money she collected to Griffin in the form of bribes. Fisher used his position as a member of organized labor to get contracts for Simmons' companies, the indictment says, and Hurst acted as a liaison between Griffin and Simmons. U.S. Attorney Stephen Hill said the indictments alleged a scheme to "buy and sell the influence of a public office." Griffin and the other three defendants appeared Thursday afternoon before a U.S. magistrate judge and were released on their promise to appear in court. "The reason I am here is because somebody lied to the grand jury," Griffin said after he left court. "We will have an opportunity for a jury trial to find out who that person is and why. I want to say to that person, I hope that God has mercy on him, because my family and I will not. …

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