Court hearing set related to allegations against state Senate nominee Nieves
A court date has been set for Thursday morning in Cole County Court in Jefferson City on a protection order being sought against state Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, Mo. Nieves just won a primary last week to be the party's nominee for state senator in the 26th District, which includes parts of St. Louis and Franklin counties.
The order is being sought by Shawn Bell, who had been the campaign manager for one of Nieves' rivals, former Washington, Mo., mayor Richard Stratman. Bell has filed a complaint with the Washington, Mo., police department alleging that Nieves threatened him with a gun during a contentious meeting in Nieves' office last Wednesday, the day after the primary.
Bell met today with prominent St. Louis lawyer Alan Mandel, and hired him. Mandel said he is preparing a civil suit to file against Nieves.
Nieves has declined to return calls from the Beacon since last week. During the weeks leading up to the election, he accused the Stratman campaign of being behind anonymous letters that alleged Nieves committed personal improprieties while he was a legislator. Nieves denied the accusations in an interview several weeks ago with the Beacon. He also has publicly condemned the letters, and frequently blasted the Stratman campaign -- including Bell -- on his daily radio show.
At least through the primary, Nieves' radio web site displayed a list of his show's webcasts, with video and audio links to his previous radio shows. As of Monday afternoon, the list and links were gone, and the previous shows could no longer be viewed. Mandel said he is seeking some of the shows' transcripts to review any of Nieves' comments about Bell.
Washington, Mo., Police Chief Kenneth Hahn confirmed this afternoon that Bell filed a complaint last Thursday.
In a statement, the chief said, "The investigation is ongoing. Upon conclusion, the investigation will be forwarded to the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. All inquiries should be forwarded to Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Bob Parks. There will be no further comment by the Washington Police Department with regard to this investigation."
As of today, no charges have been filed.
Mandel said that he believed Franklin County authorities should refer the case to the Missouri Highway Patrol, which has an investigative unit. "No offense to anyone in Franklin County, but (the case) is too close to home," Mandel said. He cited Nieves' high-profile status as a legislator. Since winning the primary, Nieves is considered the overwhelming favorite to win the 26th District state Senate seat in November.
Bell's complaint is handwritten and signed by him; a copy was provided to the Beacon by Mandel. In the complaint, Bell said that he had stopped by Nieves' office on Wednesday afternoon to congratulate him. Nieves and one of his staff workers, Dave Bailey, were in the office, the complaint said. Bell wrote that he was not initially aware that Nieves was present.
Bell knew Nieves because the two have worked together before. Bell previously had worked for former state House Speaker Rod Jetton, who did some consulting work for Nieves. As Jetton's aide, Bell focused primarily on Nieves.
According to Bell's complaint, an angry Nieves grabbed Bell and shouted obscenities. At one point, Bell's complaint alleges that Nieves head-butted him, displayed a gun and threatened to kill Bell. Nieves ordered Bell to take off his shirt, in part so Nieves could see if Bell was wired with a hidden tape recorder, the complaint says. Bell also was ordered to lie on the floor and feared he was going to be killed, the complaint says.
Nieves also called his wife and ordered Bell to apologize to her, the complaint says. During the call, Nieves is alleged to have scrolled through Bell's text messages stored on his cell phone.
Later, the complaint says, Nieves got a bit calmer and allowed Bell to leave.
"If half of the things in the report are true, it's pretty scary," said Mandel.
This evening, Nieves broke his silence to post a Tweet on the topic: "Remember this... Anybody can say Anything about Anybody at Any Time! Thank God Dave was right there with me! Be easy on Shawn - He really has serious issues!"
This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.