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Rare FBI denial of probe touches off celebration in Dooley camp

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 5, 2010 - Aides to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley were jubilant Friday, after the local chief of the FBI issued a rare statement backing up Dooley's contention that he is not the subject of any federal probe.

The one-sentence statement from Roland J. Corvington, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI St. Louis Division, said simply: "We currently are not investigating St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley."

But the effect has been to touch off a firestorm among news outlets, especially those accused by Dooley and his staff of spreading what they have claimed for weeks were inaccurate reports.

Mike Jones, Dooley's senior policy adviser, was particularly critical of KMOX Radio (1120 AM). He contended that the station's incendiary reports "drove the FBI to comment."

Jones contended that KMOX was "either complicit or grossly incompetent" in its reports alleging that the FBI was probing how county contracts were awarded and whether there was any favoritism directed at those who donated to Dooley's campaign. He is seeking re-election this fall. His rivals include Republican Bill Corrigan, a local lawyer.

Dooley and his staff were particularly adamant in their denials on Tuesday, saying then that there had been no federal subpoenaes of county documents related to such a probe and that no  current county employees were being investigated. Dooley's campaign manager, lawyer John Temporiti, also said that he had not been interviewed by the FBI.

KMOX reporter Kevin Killeen, authorized to speak on the station's behalf, replied Friday, "We stand by our story. We have never reported that Charlie Dooley himself is a target of the probe,"

Killeen said the station's stories are "based on multiple sources with first-hand knowledge of the investigation. These are bipartisan people who we've been contacting."

Killeen noted that the FBI statement made no reference to county government.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.