House Assistant Minority Leader Richard Brown, D-Kansas City, speaks during a May floor session. (Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications)

Missouri State Representative Richard Brown, will not be allowed to participate in a House Ethics Committee inquiry into the Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher who is being investigated for potentially unethical and perhaps unlawful conduct.   also running for lieutenant governor.   

Brown, who is from the Kansas City area, serves as Assistant Minority Leader of the House and is a member of the House Ethics Committee that is conducting investigation.  

Both Brown, a Democrat, and Polcher, a Republican, are running for Lieutenant Governor. 

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade invoked a rule that allows any member of the Ethics Committee to be replaced temporarily “on the grounds that the member cannot render an impartial and unbiased decision in the case.

Brown is being replaced by Rep. Robert Sauls, D-Independence,

The change took place a day before a scheduled meeting of the ethics committee, the second in two weeks to discuss Plocher.  The committee met for four hours Oct. 27 for a personnel inquiry that has now been expanded to include a formal complaint against the speaker alleging “ethical misconduct.”

Plocher has been under fire since September, when Miller, chief clerk since 2018, wrote in an email to a GOP lawmaker that Plocher had threatened her job over her resistance to an expensive software contract that the speaker was pushing for the House to sign on to.

Miller wrote that Plocher made statements “connecting this contract with campaign activity” — suggesting the speaker’s motivation was his 2024 campaign for lieutenant governor — and that she had “growing concerns of unethical and perhaps unlawful conduct.”

On Oct. 17, Plocher fired his chief of staff Kenny Ross, giving no explanation for the change. Ross was hired a few hours later by Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden.

A few days later, The Independent revealed that Plocher filed false expense reports with the legislature going back to 2018 seeking reimbursement for costs already paid for by his campaign.

The filing of a formal complaint obligates the committee to conduct an inquiry and issue a report within 45 days of completion of its investigation. 

The committee can find that the complaint is not well-founded, requiring no further action. But if it finds the complaint is valid, it can recommend punishments ranging from a letter of reproval to expulsion.

While ethics committee hearings are closed during the inquiry, the report is a public document.

Before the committee can get there, however, the House Republican Caucus could force Plocher out. The caucus will meet Thursday in Jefferson City, and a growing number of Republicans are calling for Plocher to step down.  

Rep. Adam Schwadron,  a St. Charles Republican who is running for secretary of state, became the latest, writing to his colleagues on Sunday that he is worried Republicans will lose seats if Plocher is not removed from the chamber’s top job.

Republicans hold 111 seats in the 163-member chamber. That is down from a high of 117 after the 2016 election.

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