‘Pay for play’ investigation disappoints Rep. Wilson

Brennan Stebbins

News that supposed ‘pay for play’ schemes at the Capitol had sparked an FBI investigation brought strong words from state lawmakers this week.

The Kansas City Star reported last weekend the FBI inquiry had been ongoing for at least a year, and continued into the current session in Jefferson City. It reportedly involves campaign donations in exchange for legislative favors.

“If somebody’s doing that they should be targeted,” Rep. Kevin Wilson (R-Neosho) said Wednesday. “Activities like that are what give honest politicians and honest people that are in this profession a bad name, and if somebody’s doing the pay for play activities and saying ‘well you’ve got to do this,’ quid pro quo, that kind of thing, then they should be investigated and action should be taken.”

House Minority Leader Paul LeVota (D-Independence) has been linked to the probe, though he denied any wrongdoing in an Associated Press interview, instead saying “the accusations stem from a disgruntled political rival.”

The Star spoke with three anonymous lawmakers who said they’d been interviewed by FBI agents, including one who recorded private conversations. The investigation wasn’t a complete surprise for Wilson.

“There are people up here who are unethical,” Wilson said. “It’s true of any profession. You have people who are unethical and people who are here for their own personal agendas, not for the public good, but that’s not limited to this profession.

“I think things have changed a lot up here from years past, several years past,” he added. “I think we are now more open and transparent. And I know (House Speaker) Ron Richard (R-Joplin) has pretty much said we’re here to serve the people and you better be above the board, and if you’re not above the board, you’re going to pay the consequences.

“We’re going to hold you accountable for your actions. Things are better than they used to be but if somebody is going to go rogue and do things like this they should be investigated and action should be taken.”