Pay to play? Missouri Senate leader faces questions about consumer protection bill

Six days after Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard filed legislation seeking to make big changes to Missouri’s consumer protection law, he got a $100,000 check from Joplin businessman David Humphreys.

The timing of that Dec. 7 donation, and the fact that the legislation in question could undercut a class-action lawsuit against Humphreys’ company, has stirred allegations of pay-to-play against Richard and calls for an investigation.

The facts are (Richard) received large contributions. He filed legislation that would dismiss a lawsuit against the people who made those contributions,” Silvey said during aninterview with KCUR’s “Statehouse Blend.” “It’s not for me to determine motive. It’s not for me to determine if there was a quid pro quo.”  He later said: “There are law enforcement agencies in the state or federal government, and if any of them have taken notice, I’m sure they would do their job.”Silvey’s comments echo those of state Rep. Mark Ellebracht, a Liberty Democrat who last month wrote a letter to Richard demanding more details on his relationship with Humphreys.

Ellebracht noted that Richard received $200,000 from Humphreys last year, despite the fact that he was not running for office.

“Missourians deserve to know if their government is for sale,” Ellebracht said.

Richard’s legislation would limit plaintiffs’ ability to sue individually or in class-action lawsuits under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, a law that prohibits deceptive and unfair business practices.

Humphreys’ company, Joplin-based Tamko Building Products, is facing a class-action lawsuit under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act saying it sold defective shingles. The company denies any wrongdoing.

Humphreys and his family have given millions in political contributions to Missouri Republicans in recent years. In addition to the $200,000 in donations to Richard last year, the Humphreys family doled out more than $14 million to various candidates and committees in 2016.

(Excerpted from Kansas City Star 4/11/17)