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Mo. State Rep. Accused Of Stealing, Faces Pressure To Resign

(Tim Bommel/Mo. House Communications/cropped by St. Louis Public Radio)
State Rep. Steve Webb (D, North St. Louis County)

Updated at 11:05 a.m. 11/7/2013

Missouri Rep. Steve Webb, a Democrat from North St. Louis County, was charged Wednesday with numerous counts of campaign finance violations. Webb is facing considerable pressure from his party to step down, but has not decided if he will resign.

The misdemeanor charges against Webb are for repeatedly failing to disclose campaign contributions and expenditures.

The felony charge is for stealing and alleges that Webb solicited a $3,000 donation that was supposed to be used for a Legislative Black Caucus reception. The charges allege Webb put the money in his personal bank account.

Webb’s attorney, Paul D’Agrosa, called the felony charge “novel.”

“People donate to politicians for many reasons, and don’t necessarily care about where the money goes, other than that it’s spent for that politician's causes,” D'Agrosa said.

D'Agrosa said Webb will surrender when a warrant is issued. His bond will be set at $10,000. If convicted, Webb could face as many as seven years in prison.

"We're, I think, months away from a final decision on whether this case goes to trial or there's another disposition," D'Agrosa said.

Webb is the Minority Caucus Chair and the former chairman of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus. In an interview, House Minority Leader Jacob Hummel said Webb told him that he intends to resign.

“I know he’ll get his day in court, and we’ll see what happens after that," Hummel said. "But this is obviously something I am very disappointed in.”

Webb has made no official announcement yet. The Associated Press reports that Webb wrote in a text that he hadn't decided whether he will resign.

On Thursday, Hummel released another statement that Webb had told him that he planned to resign.

"Several hours later, he evidently had a change of heart and now has told reporters that he doesn’t plan to step down at this time," Hummel wrote. “The decision on whether or when to resign ultimately is Representative Webb’s to make. But for the sake of his family and constituents, I strongly believe that he should follow through with his original intentions.”

In an interview, Hummel reiterated his point.

"Being a legislator is taxing at times, and I think his constituents deserve to have someone that’s completely focused on their needs," Hummel said. "And he’s obviously going to have to be focusing on this issue."

If Webb does step down, Governor Jay Nixon will have to set a date for a special election in the solidly Democratic district.

The charges are likely to renew the call from some to reform Missouri's ethics rules. The Show-Me state is the only state in the country to allow unlimited campaign contributions and unlimited gifts from lobbyists.

Webb was elected to the House in 2008. His campaign finance disclosures were routinely scant, and he has himself listed as the treasurer of his committee.

Since he was elected, he's collected $28,692 worth of gifts from lobbyists. Ameren has given him $13,622 in gifts (many for tickets to sporting events). Webb serves on the Utilities committee.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

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