(AP) – Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones on Wednesday created a committee of lawmakers to review allegations that Attorney General Chris Koster has been influenced by lobbyist perks and campaign contributions.
Jones, a Eureka Republican, said the committee will look into claims that Koster, a Democrat, changed policies and negotiated more favorable settlements in consumer fraud cases following lobbying by companies. The allegations were raised by a New York Times article that was published last month and cited similar examples involving attorneys general across the country.
Republican state Rep. Jay Barnes, of Jefferson City, will chair the review committee. Republican Rep. Stanley Cox, of Sedalia, will serve as vice chairman.
“I am confident the oversight committee can delve deeper into these issues so that the truth is revealed and we know once and for all whether the attorney general’s office was for sale,” Jones said in a written statement.
The New York Times reported that Koster received $13,500 in campaign contributions from a law firm representing Pfizer and $20,000 directly from the drugmaker. He later met with lobbyists and spoke to political action committees while the company was under investigation by his office.
Koster ultimately negotiated with Pfizer for the company to pay Missouri $750,000 in a legal settlement over the marketing practices of some drugs. Some other states took part in a joint investigation and were able to receive more than $1 million from Pfizer.
Koster has said the New York Times report distorts how his office dealt with the companies. A spokesman for Koster declined further comment Wednesday.