Columbia mayor candidate: opponent is involved in federal investigation
COLUMBIA — Columbia's Mayor Brian Treece is under federal investigation — at least according to the guy running against him in the upcoming April election.
Chris Kelly, a candidate for mayor, said in a Thursday night news release that an investigation into Treece has been going for more than five years. It centers on a Springfield-based charity, Preferred Family Healthcare, Kelley said, which Treece's lobbying firm used to work for.
Kelly told KOMU 8 News that his office has been looking into this for several weeks and felt it was necessary to share with voters as the campaign comes to an end.
Treece, however, condemned "desperate attacks in the last weeks of an election" and said "voters should see it for what it is."
He denied any conflict between his lobbying work and his role as mayor. He also responded to Kelly’s accusations about the Springfield charity.
Kelly's office said the federal investigation has resulted in at least 16 major indictments. Workers associated with the charity have been charged with bribery, kickbacks, wire fraud, mail fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, stealing, illegal campaign contributions, murder for hire, illegal use of lobbying funds and Medicaid fraud, Kelly's office said, among other crimes.
Kelly said the most relevant charges are that the CEO of Preferred Family Healthcare, Marilyn Nolan, pleaded guilty to making illegal payments totaling nearly $1 million directly to "Lobbying Firm D."
Kelly said multiple news outlets confirmed Lobbying Firm D is Treece's firm, but KOMU 8 News was not able to independently confirm that information or find those news reports.