Bob F. Griffin, who served as speaker of the Missouri Property for 15 years till he was pressured to resign in the deal with of a federal prison investigation, died Wednesday in Columbia. He was 85.
Griffin was the longest-serving speaker in the state’s historical past. During his tenure as speaker from 1981 to 1996, the Normal Assembly passed bills to insert major new funding for public universities a bond situation that created new structures for greater training and new prisons for the Section of Corrections and promoted many girls to committee chairmanships that experienced formerly been the exclusive area of male lawmakers.
“Bob gave the ladies of the Property new alternatives,” mentioned previous condition Rep. Gracia Backer, who was elected to the Household in 1982.
Griffin entered politics in 1962 when he gained election as Clinton County Prosecuting Lawyer. Right after two terms as prosecutor, he was elected to the Missouri Property in 1970. He was selected by his colleagues as speaker professional tem in 1977 and defeated Residence Majority Leader Joe Holt in the Democratic caucus contest for speaker in 1981.
Backer, who replaced Holt, mentioned she instructed Griffin in their to start with dialogue that she had worked on Holt’s campaign for speaker.
“Bob was quite gracious,” Backer mentioned. “Bob by no means pressured me to vote in any way in any way.”
Former point out Rep. Chris Kelly of Columbia, a shut ally, stated Griffin gained loyalty by performing to make rank-and-file associates prosperous. Kelly was named vice-chairman of the Residence Spending plan Committee in 1985, during his next expression, and turned chairman of the Spending plan Committee in the course of Griffin’s tenure.
“I stated, if I am vice chairman of funds, I never treatment wherever my business is, I really don’t care exactly where I park, I never treatment about nearly anything else but my committees,” Kelly said. “I bought the committees I desired and it made a large variance.”
1 of the most significant costs passed through Griffin’s tenure was Senate Invoice 380 in 1993, which improved private and corporate earnings taxes to assistance enhanced funding for public schools. The invoice was spurred by a courtroom decision that Missouri was not giving enough funding for colleges early in 1993, shortly just after Gov. Mel Carnahan took business office.
In a collection of tweets Wednesday, Roy Temple, a top rated aide to Carnahan, recalled the discussions about the invoice with legislative leaders.
“When he advised the Gov he’d need his enable with some votes for it to have any chance, I waited anxiously, involved he’d say we had to come across 75 or 80 and that he’d discover the relaxation,” Temple wrote. “Instead, he grinned and claimed, ‘Can you obtain the 1st 10, simply because suitable now, nobody is for it but me.’”
Previous state Rep. John Hancock, who is also a previous Missouri Republican Social gathering chairman and now is effective as a guide to GOP candidates, explained he viewed as Griffin a close friend.
“Strong, identified leadership,” is how Hancock explained Griffin. “Bob Griffin received factors performed and no matter if you favored the factors he received carried out or not, you couldn’t argue with the truth that he got them done.”
Griffin’s tenure as speaker, extra than 15 decades, is seven yrs more time than any Property member can at present provide simply because of time period restrictions. Hancock, who stated he supported term limits when they have been on the ballot in the early 1990s, mentioned he has modified his brain.
“As it has performed out, I believe in the voters to choose who they want to decide devoid of obtaining these arbitrary limitations imposed,” Hancock stated.
The only really serious challenge to Griffin’s tenure as speaker came when Residence Greater part Chief Tony Ribaudo tried to unseat him in 1989. Right after defeating Ribaudo, Griffin assigned him to operate in a windowless business office.
The federal investigation that forced Griffin’s resignation appeared at his romance with lobbyist Cathryn Simmons and whether or not the payments she designed to Griffin had been bribes or payments for lawful products and services. Griffin was indicted in October 1996 and pleaded responsible in 1997 to two counts of bribery and just one depend of mail fraud.
Griffin was sentenced to 48 months in federal jail, but the sentence was commuted by President Invoice Clinton for the duration of Clinton’s remaining times in workplace in January 2001. Because his launch from prison, Griffin lived quietly and took minor part in politics.
Griffin could have retired at any time and been a very paid lobbyist mainly because of his expertise and connections.
“We are likely to fail to remember the variety of energy that Property speakers used to have,” Hancock mentioned. “I believe that was quite alluring to Bob and he didn’t want to depart.”
That really like of being in the center of the action may possibly have been Griffin’s worst flaw, Kelly mentioned.
“I was normally towards term boundaries but Bob stayed much too long,” Kelly mentioned. “It was a traditional case in point of a man who did a good deal of great but stayed as well long.”
Previous Property Communications Director Rob Crouse, who was a school teacher in Griffin’s hometown of Cameron when they satisfied, mentioned Missourians will by no means know all the ways Griffin improved their life.
Along with the education and learning bill in 1993, Griffin shepherded the Children’s Well being Insurance Program to passage, Crouse stated.
“I liked the male,” Crouse stated. “He was a mentor and he was just one particular of individuals folks in my lifetime who built a huge big difference.”
Griffin encouraged Crouse to work for the Home and it opened doors for him. He was the leading speech author for Govs. Mel Carnahan, Roger Wilson and Bob Holden and just lately retired immediately after much more than a dozen years as communications director for Westminster College in Fulton.
“If it ended up not for Bob Griffin, who absolutely changed my everyday living, I would be today a retired trainer from Cameron, Missouri, and by no means had some of the wonderful chances I had to know the fantastic legislators, to know governors and perform for governors, and to do the job on presidential campaigns.”