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Diehl says FBI has not talked to him; others have been asked whether he influenced contract

Diehl briefly speaks with reporters after issuing a statement in which he apologized for "poor judgment" regarding texts he had with a female intern.
Eli Rosenberg | KMBC-TV, Kansas City

The FBI has apparently been questioning some public officials and other potential sources of information about whether former Missouri House Speaker John Diehl used any influence in the awarding of a Jackson County contract.

Diehl, who is a Republican from Town and Country, said late Tuesday that he has not been contacted by the FBI. He declined further comment.

However, the consultant whose firm had been awarded the contract – former Democratic aide Brittany Burke – said she had been questioned by the law-enforcement agency several weeks ago. Diehl and Burke have confirmed they were involved in a relationship for several months in early 2014, but they have not been together in more than a year.

Burke said she told the FBI that the contract  had been obtained through a standard bidding process. It was awarded late last year. She said in an interview that the FBI told her that she was not a target of their probe.

Another person, who asked not to be identified, also told St. Louis Public Radio of being interviewed by the FBI about Diehl.

Two Jackson County legislators (the equivalent of council members)  involved in the awarding of the contract told the Kansas City Star that they had told the FBI that the contract, reportedly worth up to $75,000, was awarded to Burke on the basis of merit. Her firm submitted the lowest bid, and she had done similar work for other groups.

According to the Star, the contract involved providing information to the county on how to implement some of the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act, which deals with health care issues and insurance coverage.

The legislators praised Burke’s work.

The Star reported that both officials told the FBI they had no contact with Diehl.

Diehl, a lawyer, stepped down as House speaker in May amid a controversy over texts of a sexual nature that he had been exchanging with a 19-year-old college intern.

Spokespeople for the St. Louis branch of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri told St. Louis Public Radio that the Department of Justice prohibits them from confirming or denying the existence of an investigation.

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.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.