Above the Law: Judiciary Committee Member Smith Busted on Gambling Boat
JEFFERSON CITY_ Despite being a member of a legislative committee that crafts bills designed to crack down on criminals, Democrat state Sen. Jeff Smith is now facing possible jail time and a fine after being cited by Missouri Gaming officials for presenting false identification to gain access to a gambling boat.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kansas City Star and the political website PubDef are all reporting today that Smith was cited Tuesday with a Class B misdemeanor after illegally entering the Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville while attending a “legislative tour” with other Democrat lawmakers. Smith, who serves on the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, faces a fine of up to $500 and six months in jail. The incident occurred just hours before Smith, who is also heading up the Senate Democratic Campaign for 2008, began touting newly re-invented Democrat Chris Koster as a person of integrity.
Smith said he broke the law because he had left his driver’s license outside the casino. A driver’s license is required to obtain a player’s card that tracks how money much a person spends and limits them to $500 in losses during a two-hour span. The player’s cards also prevent gamblers who are banned from Missouri casinos from entering, including those with a gambling problem.
Given the seriousness of the offense, the Missouri Republican Party is calling for the release of surveillance tapes that recorded Smith’s activities at the Isle of Capri including potential evidence that a Democrat lawmaker conspired with Smith to obtain the illegal player’s card and that Smith was illegally using an electronic device while gambling. There also are questions about whether taxpayer money was used to pay for the lawmakers’ visit to the gambling boat.
“It is a disgrace that Jeff Smith, a Missouri state senator responsible for hearing and voting on legislation designed to crack down on criminals, would knowingly commit a crime while he was supposedly representing the taxpayers of this state. Smith’s integrity as both a senator and citizen has been shattered and there are serious new questions about the behavior of his fellow Democrat lawmakers,” said Paul Sloca, communications director for the Missouri Republican Party. “This is an embarrassment to all law-abiding Missourians and may ultimately lead to more serious political consequences beyond the legal ones facing Smith.”