Underlying issues suspected in recent Missouri legislator indictments
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Underlying issues suspected in recent Missouri legislator indictments

Date: September 24, 2009
By: Allison Blood
State Capitol Bureau

Intro:  Another democratic legislator faced charges today, so some believe there is a larger issue than bribery under investigation. Allison Blood has more from Jefferson City.
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Wrap: St. Louis Democratic representative Talibdin El-Amin pled guilty to charges of bribery Thursday, but one politicial science professor thinks that's not the end of the road.

The federal government charged El-Amin with soliciting and accepting a bribe of 2,100 dollars from a gas station owner.

Kenneth Warren teaches political science at St. Louis University, and he finds it extremely strange that a federal court would take interest in a relatively petty case.

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Description: "What the hell is going on here? Because the US Attourney's office does not normally do this kind of thing."
Warren has some background in working with the government in investigating voter fraud and said the scale of this investigation is too small to warrant federal attention.

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Description: "They have a very limited budget, they prioritize their investigations and they normally don't have money for investigating some of these, well, what a lot of people regard, are petty offenses."

Warren said the situation leads him to wonder how political the indictments of Democrats like Senator Jeff Smith and Representative Steve Brown are.

Warren pointed to Republicans.

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Description: "This emminates from Catherine Hannoway, a republican, who is now out of office, and she has not been replaced yet."
But Senate leader Charlie Shields said when legislators are indicted, it doesn't just hurt their party.

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Description: "It damages the public the public trust, and as somebody that holds the public trust, you find that upsetting because ultimately you want people to have confidence in your government."

Perhaps this is not a partisan issue.

All three of these men represent the St. Louis area.

Democratic House leader Paul LeVota was unsure what to make of the recent indictments.

Actuality:  LEVOTA1.WAV
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Description: "Seems like a, uh, real problem for St. Louis Democrats, and you know, I just, I just don't know how else to react besides uh, this shouldn't be happening."
Despite LeVota's comments, Warren believes there will be more investigations and more alligations coming to light soon.

From Jefferson City, this is Allison Blood, KSMU News.