Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Prosecutor declines to bring rape charges in case with apparent ties to Jason Kander scandal surrounding Missouri U.S. Senate race against Roy Blunt

Cora Faith Walker
A Missouri special prosecutor yesterday declined to bring criminal charges in the case of an incoming state representative who claimed one of her future colleagues raped her. Evidence suggests the rape allegations are connected to an evolving scandal surrounding Democrat Jason Kander, who is attempting to unseat GOP incumbent Roy Blunt in one of the nation's most closely watched U.S. Senate races.

We reported last week on The Kander Memo, which outlines a number of campaign-finance irregularities -- plus possible criminal acts such as theft by deceit and fraud -- against the candidate and his wife, Diana Kagan Kander. How explosive could The Kander Memo become? The rape allegations involving two up-and-coming politicians from the St. Louis area seem to provide insight.

Cora Faith Walker, 31, won the Democratic primary and is running unopposed in the general election for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives from the Ferguson area. Steven Roberts Jr. also is running unopposed to become a Democratic representative from a metro St. Louis district. Both are expected to take office in January 2017.

But their relationship already has become the subject of national news. In a letter dated September 30 to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) and other legislative leaders, Walker accused Roberts of raping her. She said in the letter that she had filed a police report earlier that week against Roberts.

The story generated headlines well beyond Missouri over the past three weeks or so, but prosecutor Tim Lohmar announced yesterday that he could find no grounds to bring a case against Roberts. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar, who serves as a special prosecutor in the case, said, “We’re not going to file charges against Mr. Roberts. There simply wasn’t enough credible evidence that sexual relations between these two people were anything but consensual.”

How does the Kander scandal enter the picture? Walker is one of three officers in Raise Your Hands for Kids (RYH4K), a Missouri nonprofit that Kander controls. It has raised approximately $5 million to, it appears, push for a ballot initiative and constitutional amendment that would raise tobacco taxes to help boost early-childhood education in Missouri.

That sounds like a noble cause. But Big Tobacco, specifically RJ Reynolds, has contributed $3 million, and fine print in the ballot measure shows it would protect and likely increase Big Tobacco's market share, in part by imposing a particularly heavy tax on Reynolds' chief competitors -- cheap "discount brand" cigarettes.

Is that the only unseemly business behind the RYH4K scheme? Nope. According to The Kander Memo, RYH4K violates the Federal Campaign Act and operates as "a $5-million political slush fund, to use as Kander deems best to further his political candidacy and personal ambition . . . ."

The Kander Memo, which is embedded at the end of this post, was released to at least seven government-oversight bodies on September 20. At the heart of the memo is this question: What happened to the $5 million raised for RYH4K, and who are the individuals with a fiduciary duty to make sure the money was spent lawfully?

Steven Roberts Jr.
That question points squarely in the direction of Cora Faith Walker. As an officer in RYH4K, Walker was one of three individuals with such a fiduciary duty -- and the stark language in The Kander Memo, outlining numerous possible criminal violations -- clearly posed a threat to her career as a lawyer and a politician.

Did Walker develop flimsy rape allegations against Stephen Roberts Jr. as a way to divert attention from the ugly questions The Kander Memo raises -- questions that could send state and federal investigators her way?

This much we know for sure. The Kander Memo became public on September 20, and 10 days later, Walker came forward with rape allegations against Roberts. She filed a police report several days prior to that. We also now know that a prosecutor has found the allegations were too thin to support a criminal case.

The Kander-Blunt contest has been portrayed as the race that could decide which political party controls the U.S. Senate beginning in January 2017. But details in the 127-page Kander Memo, plus Cora Walker's rape allegations that now have fallen apart, suggest something deeper and more sinister might be going on.


Anonymous said...

This story has been covered in Washington Post, NY Daily News? Interesting. Seems to have struck a nerve.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, the rape and political angles have received widespread coverage. But I believe we are the first to report on Ms. Walker's ties to the Jason Kander scandal.

Anonymous said...

I found coverage at New York Magazine:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Missouri as messed up as Alabama. Any AM customers you going to highlight from your new home state?