Missouri GOP political consultant gets probation in felony tax fraud case

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David Barklage, a veteran lobbyist and political consultant in Missouri, was granted probation by a federal judge Thursday for failing to pay more than $150,000 in taxes over the course of a three-year period.

He was also ordered to pay restitution and perform 120 hours of community service.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for him to receive 12 to 18 months.

Barklage pled guilty to a felony tax charge in U.S. District Court in August. His attorney, Joseph Passanise, filed a sentencing memo with the court last month asking the judge take into account Barklage’s “good character” and “otherwise law-abiding and hard-working life.”

Passanise also provided the judge with numerous letters of support vouching for Barklage’s character, most coming from his clients and other political consultants.

The prosecution’s sentencing memo remains sealed from public view. Prosecuting the case was Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith, who specializes in public corruption cases and was the lead prosecutor in the indictment of former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.

In the 1990s, Barklage led campaign committees in both the Missouri House and Senate that eventually helped engineer the Republican takeover of the legislature for the first time in 50 years. He’s also long been a part of Gov. Mike Parson’s political team, most recently as a consultant for Uniting Missouri, a political action committee formed to help Parson win a full four-year term.

Barklage’s former business partner is Robert Knodell, who served as Parson’s deputy chief of staff before being named acting director of the Department of Social Services.

The indictment focuses on failure to report income from 2012 to 2014, a time when Barklage was in business with Knodell. During that time, the indictment says he failed to report $443,633 in income and failed to pay $151,843 in taxes.

Most of that income — $209,499 — came from a Missouri political campaign, the indictment says. Another $30,000 came from lobbying fees and $122,580 came from “an independent media producer” that is not named.

Barklage deposited all of these funds into his personal bank account, the indictment says, instead of his business bank accounts. These funds and earnings “were not included on Barklage’s tax returns for the years 2012, 2013, and 2014,” the indictment says.

This story was produced by the Missouri Independent, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering state government, politics and policy.

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