JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Ethics Commission has fined an adviser to prominent Republican donor David Humphreys $2,000 for illegally lobbying at the state Capitol for legislation that Humphreys supported.
Paul Mouton, of Webb City, was fined this week after a complaint was filed with the ethics commission in June asking whether he was lobbying on Humphreys’ behalf without filing the proper paperwork and disclosing the relationship. He will have to pay only $200 of the $2,000 fine if he doesn’t violate lobbying laws for the next two years.
The complaint came after Democrats accused Senate President Ron Richard of sponsoring legislation that would benefit Humphreys as payback for political contributions. Richard and Humphreys both have denied wrongdoing.
The Campaign for Accountability, a Washington-based government watchdog group, in April asked a federal prosecutor to investigate whether Richard accepted a $100,000 campaign contribution from Humphrey in return for legislative assistance.
Mouton was often at the Capitol during the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions and Richard’s office regularly provided him with a parking space in the Senate’s private garage, the Kansas City Star reported . Several of the dates when Mouton had the parking spot correspond with action on legislation supported by Humphreys, including the day a Senate committee approved a bill at the heart of the allegations against Richard.
The bill would have limited plaintiffs’ ability to sue individually or in class-action lawsuits under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, which prohibits deceptive and unfair business practices. Humphreys’ company, TAMKO Building Products, is facing a class-action lawsuit under that act alleging it sold defective shingles, which the company denies.
The ethics commission determined that Mouton was retained and compensated by Humphreys as a political consultant. Although he was not designated as a lobbyist, he met with lawmakers and their staffs to discuss legislation Humphreys supported.
In a statement to The St. Joseph News-Press, Mouton said that throughout his career, “I have been committed to following the letter and the spirit of the law. I look forward to continuing my work advocating for better policies and better government in the state of Missouri.”
Rep. Mark Ellebracht, a Liberty Democrat who has been a vocal critic of Richard and Humphreys, said he was glad he helped play a part in shedding light on Mouton’s and Humphreys’ “unethical and unacceptable behavior.”
But he said Humphreys won’t be swayed by a $200 fine.” He said the commission should have prosecutorial powers because “it ought to be criminal for one wealthy individual like Humphreys to wield such immense influence simply because they can afford to purchase it,”
Along with his family, Humphreys contributed more than $14 million last year to various candidates and campaigns.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com