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Mo. politicians react to Smith and Brown

Missouri State Capitol.
Missouri State Capitol.

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri politicians are sounding off on the resignations of State Senator Jeff Smith and State Representative Steve Brown.

The two Democrats from St. Louis pleaded guilty today to federal charges related to Smith's failed 2004 Congressional bid.

In a written statement, Governor Jay Nixon called the resignations of Smith and Brown "necessary and appropriate," and he has scheduled a special election to fill their seats on November 3rd.

House Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota (D, Independence) says Smith's and Brown's actions make it harder for elected officials to do their jobs.

"I think it puts a question mark above all of us in public life...it makes the people of Missouri wonder about who they're electing," LeVota said.

Republican Lt. Governor Peter Kinder says he's saddened by Smith's guilty plea, and that while he doesn't condone his actions, Kinder says he'll stand by his friend during this "dark time."

Another Republican, Senate President Pro-tem Charlie Shields of St. Joseph, says he's saddened by Smith's resignation.

"I think these issues around campaign finance are serious matters, and certainly the message is that our constituents expect elected officials to play by the rules and be forthcoming," Shields said.

A spokesman for the Missouri Democratic Party issued a written statement, saying that it's regrettable that two public servants with promising careers involved themselves in this kind of situation.

The Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party, Lloyd Smith, was more harsh. He issued a press release, which read, in part:

"Today's guilty pleas...illustrate the arrogant abuse of power that undermines the faith that Missourians have in their government and their representatives.

"These Democrats conspired to break the rules by intentionally misleading investigators, and now they must face the consequences. And in the end, their crimes will overshadow all of their past legislative accomplishments."