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Embattled Missouri House speaker hires a former House speaker who pleaded guilty to assault

COLUMBIA — Missouri’s troubled House speaker is getting blowback after he hired another former House speaker who had pleaded guilty to assault to be his chief of staff.

Republican Speaker Dean Plocher's hiring of former speaker Rod Jetton is “a gross affront to survivors of domestic violence,” Democratic House Minority Leader Crystal Quade said Thursday.

Jetton in 2011 pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault while admitting that he hit and choked a woman during a sexual encounter in November 2009. He was sentenced to probation.

“The speaker’s hiring of a man who pleaded guilty to assault for hitting and choking a woman during a sexual encounter is a gross affront to domestic violence survivors," Quade said in a statement. “An admitted abuser of women has no business holding a position of influence in the Missouri House, and his hiring marks a failure of both judgment and leadership by the speaker.”

Associated Press emails seeking comment from Plocher were not immediately returned Thursday.

Jetton served as House speaker from 2005 until January 2009, when he was prevented from running for office again because of term limits.

He left the House while under federal investigation on a bribery allegation. He testified before a grand jury in 2010 but never was indicted.

Plocher announced a full reorganization and new staff in October after The Missouri Independent first reported that Plocher had received state reimbursement for years of travel expenses that he originally paid for out of his campaign fund and not his own pocket.

Plocher has been reimbursing the House, but that was not enough to fend off calls for him to resign by fellow House Republicans. So far, he has resisted.

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