Jeff Smith (Missouri politician)
|Member of the Missouri Senate
from the 4th district
December 9, 1973 |
St. Louis, Missouri
Jeff Smith (born December 9, 1973) is a former Democratic member of the Missouri Senate, representing the 4th district from 2007 until 2009. His district covered the western portion of the City of St. Louis. On August 25, 2009 he pled guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and resigned his seat. He admitted his involvement, and attempted cover-up, in two federal election law violations committed during his 2004 campaign for Congress. These violations involved his campaign's coordination with an independent group to fund and create a mailer with information about the voting record of his opponent, Russ Carnahan.
Early life 
Smith is Jewish and was raised in the St. Louis suburb of Olivette, Missouri and graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in African-American Studies and political science. He received his MA and PhD in political science from Washington University in St. Louis.
Smith has taught as an Adjunct and/or Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Missouri–St. Louis, and Dartmouth College and won the 2002 Washington University Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence. In 2001, Smith co-founded the Confluence Academies, a group of charter schools in North St. Louis focusing on math and science education.
Political career 
In 2004, Smith was a candidate in the crowded Democratic primary election for the U.S. House of Representatives to replace retiring Congressman Dick Gephardt. Beginning as an unknown, Smith finished second in the ten-candidate field, narrowly losing to Russ Carnahan. His campaign was widely recognized as an example of successful grassroots organizing. It was the subject of the documentary film Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, which won the 2006 audience choice award at the Silverdocs film festival. In February 2007, the documentary aired on the award-winning PBS series Independent Lens.
A year after his unsuccessful Congressional campaign, Smith announced his intention to seek the Missouri State Senate seat being vacated by Pat Dougherty. The race was heavily contested and other candidates included State Representatives Yaphett El-Amin, and Amber Boykins, former State Representative Derio Gambaro, and former St. Louis Alderman Kenny Jones. Smith won the primary election on August 8, 2006, and was unopposed in the general election.
Smith, who was widely seen as a rising star in the state Democratic Party, worked across the aisle to pass several pieces of major legislation. On December 22, 2008 Sen Smith introduced Paternity Reform legislation in the Missouri State Senate. Sen. Smith's SB 140 created "fathering courts" throughout the state, while SB 141 is generally like the model legislation. Governor Jay Nixon signed both bills into law shortly after the 2009 legislative session. Smith also emerged in 2009 as the Legislature's leading advocate for historic preservation tax credits.
Criminal conviction 
In September 2004, Smith submitted a false affidavit to the Federal Election Commission relating to a conspiracy with a group called Voters for Truth in the summer of 2004, to run negative advertisements against Russ Carnahan, Smith's opponent in a congressional race. In January 2009, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office, acting upon newly discovered information, opened a criminal investigation to determine whether anyone had attempted to obstruct the Federal Election Commission proceeding. Smith was betrayed by his former associate Steve Brown after Brown was approached by the FBI to wear a wire. Brown escaped a jail sentence by betraying Smith, his longtime friend. Smith pleaded guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Each conspiracy count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. He resigned effective August 25, 2009 and was sentenced to one year and a day of prison. He also was fined $50,000. His lawyer requested Smith be sent to a prison camp in Marion, Illinois. However, Smith was sent to a federal prison in Manchester, Kentucky. In late August 2010 he was released to a halfway house in St. Louis. In November 2010, he was released early from the halfway house and is no longer in federal custody.
Current Life 
In spring 2011, Smith was married and in September, he and his wife Teresa had their first child, Charlie Wallace Smith. Smith accepted a professorial position in urban policy at the New School's Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy in New York City. At present he writes for The Recovering Politician  and contributes to Politico - The Arena. His writing has been published in Inc. magazine  and praised in New York Magazine's Approval Matrix. Smith plans to publish a book, which details his time in politics and federal prison, in late 2011 to early 2012.
- "About Jeff Smith". Jeff Smith 2006 Missouri State Senate campaign site.
- "Election Night Reporting: U.S. Representative - District 3 - Summary". Official Election Returns, State of Missouri Primary Election, Tuesday, August 3, 2004. State of Missouri.
- "Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? website".
- "Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?". Independent Lens. PBS. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
- "Election Night Reporting: State Senator - District 4 - Summary". Official Election Returns, State of Missouri Primary Election - Primary Election, Tuesday, August 8, 2006. State of Missouri.
- "Paternity Fraud Reform Introduced in the Missouri Senate". Allvoices.com.
- http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/political-fix/political-fix/2009/11/smith-gets-one-year-in-prison/ (visited November 17, 2009)
- Missouri Senate - Jeff Smith official government website
- Jeff Smith for Missouri Senate official campaign website, as of October 13, 2006
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Follow the Money - Jeff Smith
- 2006 campaign contributions
- CAN MR. SMITH GET TO WASHINGTON ANYMORE? site for Independent Lens on PBS
- Mo Senator Jeff Smith submits SB141 in Missouri MakeTheRealDadPay.org
- Paternity Fraud Reform Introduced in the Missouri Senate AllVoices.com
- Ex-Senator Jeff Smith: campaign lie landed me in jail Radio Interview with The State We're In
- The Postcard Always Rings Twice segment from This American Life on the path that led to Jeff Smith's conviction