JEFFERSON CITY - The House Ethics Committee chairman has turned down a request for an investigation into utility company contributions into the campaign war chest of the House Utilities Regulation Committee chairman.
The investigation request was made by Mike Goodwin of Independence. He charged the Utilities Regulation Committee chairman - Rep. Carol Mays, D-Independence - has accepted more than $10,000 in campaign contributions from utility companies over the last 12 years. Mays has chaired the committee for the last four years.
Goodwin is running for the Democratic nomination against Mays for her House seat. "It looks like Rep. Mays has conducted a political shakedown operation to pad her campaign fund," Goodwin said in a prepared statement.
House Ethics Committee Chairman Robert Clayton, D-Hannibal, pointed to House rules which provide that his committee can act only on complaints filed by House members. In contrast, Clayton said, complaints by private individuals and even political parties can trigger a Congressional ethics investigation.
Goodwin related that he did not know of the limitations before he sent the request. He said he would need time to think about alternatives.
Clayton said he had not formed an opinion on Goodwin's complaint. "It's up to the people to think what they want about this," he said.
Mays, who has been the chairman of the committee since it was created about four years ago, said she doesn't think she did anything wrong.
"Only a small fraction...came from utility companies. The majority of my donations come from individuals," she said.
Mays argued that the donations have not influenced her actions as chairman of the committee.
"We passed things like consumer protection bills, which had a great deal of opposition from utility companies," she related. "This complaint is the kind of thing someone does when they can't think of something to offer from what they've accomplished."