CLAYTON, Mo. — Some members of the St. Louis County Council say they were tricked into sweetening the pension for county prosecutor Robert McCulloch, but Executive Steve Stenger says that’s not true.
The council last year approved a change in the retirement system that benefited McCulloch, the 66-year-old prosecutor who gained fame following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
The change made McCulloch eligible for both state and county pensions when he retires. After the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about the change, some council members said they didn’t know what it was that they’d unanimously approved.
Stenger, though, told the Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2gLqkQj ) that this wasn’t the case.
“No one was fooled, no one was tricked, there was no deceit,” Stenger said. “If someone needs to come in and read (legislation) to the council, then that’s a pretty darn sad state of affairs.”
Stenger and McCulloch are Democrats. The Post-Dispatch reported that McCulloch gave Stenger’s campaign more than $100,000 in 2014, mostly in in-kind contributions.
Councilwoman Hazel Erby told the paper last week that members of the council “were blindsided.” Councilman Mark Harder said the council receives hundreds of pieces of legislation.
“This was an existing rule, and they changed a few words,” he said.
Erby is sponsoring a bill to undo the changes. Hearings are planned next month.
Stenger has previously defended amending McCulloch’s pension as “an act of fairness and appreciation for a lifetime of faithful service to the public.”
Brown, who was 18, black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white police officer in 2014. Instead of pressing charges against the officer, McCulloch referred the case to a grand jury, which declined to indict the officer. Some criticized McCulloch’s handling of the case.
The U.S. Department of Justice also declined to file charges against the officer, who resigned.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com