Former Missouri House Speaker John Diehl fined $47K by state ethics commission

After resigning in disgrace in 2015, Diehl was involved in an Independence utility contract that garnered FBI scrutiny

By: - May 23, 2023 5:39 pm

John Diehl during his time in the Missouri House of Representatives (Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications).

A former Missouri House speaker who was forced to resign in disgrace in 2015 has been fined $47,000 by the Missouri Ethics Commission for allegedly misusing campaign funds.

John Diehl, a Republican from Town and Country, signed a consent decree with the ethics commission released Tuesday acknowledging probable cause that he violated state campaign finance laws.

While he was fined $47,000, Diehl will only have to pay roughly $10,000 if he doesn’t violate campaign finance law again in the next two years.

The four counts in the consent decree include a $6,730 credit card payment for non-campaign expenses and three counts of failure to properly disclose and report campaign expenses.

Diehl was arguably the state’s most powerful politician in 2015 when the Kansas City Star revealed he’d been sending sexually inappropriate messages to a 19-year-old House intern. While he initially refused to step down, he eventually resigned when it became clear he’d lost the support of key members of his party.

After his political career ended, he laid low for years before reemerging in 2018 to advocate for a company he co-owned that was hoping to mine cobalt in the Bootheel.

He later became embroiled in controversy in Independence, when the FBI began scrutinizing a contract to demolish the power plant in Missouri City owned by Independence Power & Light.

Diehl was attorney for the company that won the contract despite bidding twice as much as the other company seeking the job.

A federal grand jury had issued subpoenas to Independence to obtain a number of records related to the two utility deals, including minutes to private meetings held by the Independence City Council where the transactions were discussed. Additionally, numerous city officials were interviewed by federal law enforcement.

A Kansas City businessman named Joseph Campbell who was connected to the utility contract testified under oath that the FBI questioned him about Diehl, whom he accused of trying to create a fake attorney-client relationship in order to keep from having to hand over certain documents the government had requested through a subpoena.

Through an attorney, Diehl denied the accusation.

No criminal charges have been filed in connection to the Independence contracts.

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.