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Former Carnahan worker may sue blogs linking him to firebombing

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 27, 2010 - The lawyer for Russ Carnahan's former campaign worker accused by some of tossing a molotov cocktail into the congressman's campaign office says the worker is innocent and no evidence links him to the incident.

"He's vigorously denying the allegations,'' said lawyer Susan Roach, referring to her client, Chris Powers.

She confirmed that police investigating the Aug. 17 incident interviewed Powers, but added, "there's no evidence that would place him at the scene of the crime."

Roach said today that she and her client also are considering possible legal action against the conservative blogs tying him to the crime.

"That's something we're reviewing," said Roach. "It's not out of the realm of possibility."

"It's certainly not appropriate for these factions to be turning him into a political scapegoat,'' the lawyer added.

Powers volunteered for Carnahan's campaign and worked briefly as a canvasser. The congressman said at a news conference earlier this week that Powers had been fired shortly before the firebombing for "not doing his job." However, Carnahan took pains not to accuse Powers of being a suspect.

In the firebombing, someone broke a window at the back of Carnahan's campaign office and tossed in a molotov cocktail, which did minor damage.

Roach said that Powers had a slight disagreement with the campaign, but added, "it's a stretch to create a nexis between that and the criminal activity."

Powers, his lawyer said, remains a supporter of Carnahan.

Various conservative blogs have been circulating video and photos of Powers, who was present at several Carnahan public events last year that touched off confrontations between his supporters and Tea Party activists.

The St. Louis circuit attorney's office has not charged anyone with the crime. Ed Postawko, the chief warrant officer, said today that he could say little because "an investigation is actively underway."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.