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By: Brian Ellison, KCUR 89.3, April 19, 2017

A Washington-based watchdog group has joined calls for an investigation into Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard over campaign contributions he received from a Joplin businessman.

Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit organization describing itself as “focused on government accountability,” has sent a formal letter of complaint to the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri. The letter requests an investigation into whether Richard’s actions violated federal law.

The donations at issue came from David Humphreys, the owner of Tamko Building Products who has given millions of dollars to many Missouri Republican campaigns. Over the past month, legislators have raised questions about a pair of $100,000 donations to Richard, a Joplin Republican. Six days before the second of those donations, Richard introduced a bill that would fundamentally change state consumer protection laws and potentially undercut a pending class-action lawsuit against Tamko.

“Sen. Richard can’t expect anyone to believe it’s a coincidence that he introduced a bill that could save TAMKO [sic] millions and received $100,000 from the company’s CEO just a few days later,” said Dan Stevens, executive director of Committee for Accountability, in a statement. “This situation begs for a grand jury investigation; it’s a crime for elected officials to accept benefits in exchange for official action.”

A spokesman confirmed Wednesday afternoon that acting U.S. Attorney Tom Larson’s office had received the letter, but said it would be inappropriate to comment further.

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