Sen. Jeff Smith’s statement on resigning from the Mo. Senate
Today, with great sadness and regret, I am resigning from the Missouri Senate.
During my 2004 Congressional race, I became aware of an independent effort to produce two mailers to benefit my campaign. Federal campaign finance law prohibits specific coordination between a campaign and anyone preparing an independent expenditure.
When the independent operator requested funding, I authorized a close friend to raise money for the effort, and my press secretary provided public information about my opponent’s voting record. I withheld my knowledge of these facts during the Federal Election Commission’s 2004 investigation, misleading investigators and filing a false affidavit.
The FEC cleared our campaign of wrongdoing. But in 2009, the government received new information and reopened its investigation. When questioned, I stood by our 2004 account and encouraged my close friend to do so, misleading the authorities. Today I am taking full responsibility for my mistakes, and have pled guilty to obstructing justice.
This event has humbled me. I have done some significant introspection and that has been the hardest part: coming to terms with my own poor judgments and mistakes.
I apologize to my constituents, my staff, my Senate colleagues, my supporters, and to Congressman Carnahan. I am sorry to be leaving an institution I dearly love and the chance to represent a City with so much potential. Most importantly, I apologize to my family for not living up to what you expect of me, or what I expect of myself.
But I’m proud of my work in the Senate. With the help of my legislative staff, colleagues, and issue advocates, I believe I positively impacted several policy areas. I worked to create the Missouri Teaching Fellows Program to bring top-notch teachers to struggling school districts, expanded early childhood education for impoverished City children, and helped add $5M in bonuses to the salaries of City teachers whose students make exceptional academic progress.
My office spent many hours working with advocates for eco-friendly policies. I led the drive to pass a Green Sales Tax Holiday for energy-efficient appliances, a tax deduction for home energy audits, and a mandate that Missouri increase its energy efficiency standard for state buildings.
Working with the Fathers Support Center of St. Louis, I sponsored and passed two bills that will transform our child-support system. One will help fathers struggling to pay child support avoid felony convictions and jail time by creating “fathering courts” to help non-violent offenders find jobs and resume support payments, saving the state millions in incarceration costs. The second will reduce erroneous paternity judgments and ensure that men with DNA tests showing non-paternity will no longer have to pay for children who are not theirs.
Finally, I helped successfully defend Missouri’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit, which has done more than any other program to revitalize formerly dilapidated urban neighborhoods, creating jobs and putting abandoned buildings back onto the tax rolls.
I hope that my Senate tenure, albeit brief, is remembered as productive and beneficial to those I served. I thank my colleagues with whom I worked on the above as well as my trusted and loyal aides: Stacy Morse, Christine Brauner, Johnny Little, and Kailey Burger.
I am saddened by the thought that some may give up on politics because I let them down. I was blessed to have so many amazing volunteers who worked to support me with no political experience and developed a passion for activism through their work. Today I fear that some of them – some of you – may feel as if your efforts were in vain. But they were not.
If you helped in my election to office, my 3-on-3 basketball tournament and community fair, my MLK Jr. Blvd. cleanup, or other programs I promoted, please don’t let my mistakes sour you on active civic involvement. There are no perfect people and no perfect candidates, but I hope you’ll find a candidate or a cause in which you believe and fight for it with the same zeal you fought for me. Because the real tragedy of my lapses would be if they discouraged people like you from civic engagement.
Mary Pickford once said that failure is not falling down but staying down. I won’t run for office again, but I’ll stay active in the causes that animate me – from urban education to preserving historic neighborhoods to providing health care for all – to try and help the City I love continue its return to the glory of its past.
Thank you for being a part of my life the last few years. I deeply regret the mistakes that have forced my resignation, but I hope you will balance them against the totality of my service, and that we can work together again in the future.