Rep. Storch says committee chair should resign

Rep. Rachel Storch (D-St. Louis) calls for Rep. Jane Cunningham to resign her position as House Education Committee Chair.

Greg Salzer

Rep. Rachel Storch (D-St. Louis) calls for Rep. Jane Cunningham to resign her position as House Education Committee Chair.

JEFFERSON CITY – Rep. Rachel Storch (D-St. Louis) called for Rep. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) to resign the chair of the House Education Committee at a press conference on Feb. 8.

“Missourians need to know their government is not for sale,” Storch said. “They need to know that special interests will not have special access in the halls of the capitol.”

Cunningham was reappointed to the chair at the start of the session after campaigning on her own behalf.

One of the reasons Cunningham gave in her request to retain the Education Chair position in a memo dated Nov. 29, 2004, and addressed to the majority caucus members, was her connection to All Children Matter, a Michigan-based voucher advocacy group.

“I was able to attract generous PAC money in large part because of my chairmanship of the Missouri House Education Committee,” Cunningham said in her letter.

“Remaining in that leadership position will help secure the continuation of these benefits to our caucus,” Cunningham said in her letter.

All Children Matter provided nearly $350,000 in “independent expenditures” on behalf of Gov. Matt Blunt, Lt. Gov. Kinder, and republican house and senate candidates.

“It is a serious break of ethics to have used – and continue to use – a committee chairmanship as a mechanism for raising campaign funds,” Storch said.

Storch also called for Cunningham to release all written documents related to the retention of the committee chairmanship.

If Cunningham fails to turn over the documents, Storch said she would decide at that time whether to turn the issue over to the Ethics Committee or prosecutors.

This is not a game of gotcha or an effort to entangle anyone in legal problems, she said.

“At this time I believe that the specter of impropriety is so great that there is no choice but for Representative Cunningham to step down from her committee chairmanship,” Storch said.

“Is a serious breach of ethics, tantamount to bribery, to hold out the promise of campaign funds in return for reappointment,” Storch said.

The relevant Missouri Revised Statute would be 576.010, ‘Bribery of a public servant.’

The Statute reads: “576.010. 1. A person commits the crime of bribery of a public servant if he knowingly offers, confers or agrees to confer upon any public servant any benefit, direct or indirect, in return for: (1) The recipient’s official vote, opinion, recommendation, judgment, decision, action or exercise of discretion as a public servant.”

Rep. Storch plans to introduce legislation to clarify the bribery statute.

Attempts to get Cunningham’s response to Storch’s allegations were unsuccessful.