Former State Senator Jeff Smith Facing 20 Years in Prison, Maybe More

Aug 25, 2009 at 3:32 pm
A little over a month ago, Jeff Smith was still considered a rising star in Missouri Democratic politics. Now his political career is more than likely over.

Smith admitted in federal court today that he tried to cover up his involvement in a federal elections violation not once -- but twice.

Smith told U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson that in the course of his 2004 race for Congress, he authorized Steve Brown to raise money for a mailer targeting his opponent, Russ Carnahan. Smith also said his campaign staff provided voting records to the political action committee putting together the mailer. Smith admitted he knew it was against federal election laws for his campaign to coordinate with an independent group on such a mailing.

Smith told Judge Jackson that when he was first contacted in 2004 by the Federal Election Commission's investigators about the matter, he denied any involvement -- and signed a false affidavit stating he had no knowledge of the election violation.

Smith then said that he learned the FBI was again looking at the matter this year and had convened a grand jury this summer to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. Smith admitted that he met with State Rep. Steve Brown and a former campaign aide, Nick Adams, to talk about how to conceal his involvement with the political action committee.

Smith pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruction a Federal Election Commission proceeding, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct a federal grand jury proceeding.

Each count carries a prison term of up to 20 years and/or a $250,000 fine, plus three years' supervised release.

Smith was accompanied to court by a girlfriend. He left the courthouse on a $10,000 bond and is free until his sentencing on November 10.

Smith declined to tell Daily RFT why he orchestrated the cover-up.

He told a throng of reporters outside the courthouse: "I apologize first and foremost to my constituents. I apologize to my colleagues in the Senate. I apologize to Congressman Carnahan. And most of all, I apologize to my family for not living up to what they expected of me and what I expected of myself."

Smith, 35, is a graduate of Ladue's Horton Watkins High School and holds a Ph.D. in political science from Washington University.

His friend and former associate Steve Brown, a state representative and former assistant Attorney General for Missouri, also pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice today.