Former Missouri state Sen. Ryan Silvey received more than $170,000 in contributions over a four-year period from the executives of a nonprofit that is the focus of a long-running federal investigation, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Silvey — who is now the chairman of the state's Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities — has not been charged with wrongdoing, but five of his campaign donors have been convicted in the ongoing investigation.
Silvey could not be reached for comment Monday, but he told the newspaper he was never asked to do anything for the then-Springfield, Missouri-based nonprofit, Alternative Opportunities, or its successor, Preferred Family Healthcare.
Rather, Alternative Opportunities CEO Tom Goss told him the donations were made because he and Silvey were cousins. Silvey added that the two didn't cross paths until Goss introduced himself at a campaign fundraiser in Liberty for Silvey’s 2012 campaign.
Goss hasn't been charged, but court documents refer to him and his wife, who was the chief operating officer of Alternative Opportunities, in schemes to loot the company. The company merged with Preferred Family Healthcare, based in Kirksville, in 2015, and now does business as Preferred Family Healthcare.
Preferred Family Healthcare provides mental and behavioral health services at locations in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Illinois. In the Kansas City area, it provides substance use disorder services at facilities in Liberty and Olathe, as well as a residential adolescent program in Kansas City. It also offers support services for individuals with developmental disabilities at facilities in Kansas City and Gladstone.
The Democrat-Gazette reported that in addition to Goss, Silvey’s donors included the former CEO of Alternative Opportunities, Marilyn Nolan, and Milton “Rusty” Cranford, a former lobbyist.
Nolan pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to embezzle funds by making “substantial, undisclosed lobbying and political advocacy, monetary and in-kind contributions to the campaigns of candidates for public office, and to bribe public officials,” according to the plea agreement.
And Cranford pleaded guilty in June to one count of bribery, admitting he paid at least three Arkansas legislators — two of whom have been convicted and the third charged for violating campaign finance laws and filing false income tax returns.
As a nonprofit, Preferred Family Healthcare is barred by the IRS from participating in campaigns for or against political candidates for public office. But Nolan's plea agreement said the donors' political contributions were reimbursed by Alternatives Opportunities.
Court filings state Alternative Opportunities helped stage fundraisers for candidates running for the Missouri state Senate and House and the Greene County Commission. The filings don’t identify the candidates but say company executives “gave things of value to numerous public officials, in exchange for their official actions benefitting” the company “and themselves personally.”
The documents describe one fundraiser as taking place in 2010 for “Missouri Senator B,” who was then a Senate candidate, and a second fundraiser in 2012 for “Missouri Representative A,” also a Senate candidate.
Silvey, a Republican, served in the Senate from 2013 to 2018, representing a district that includes most of Clay County. Before that, he was in the House from 2005 to 2013. He resigned his Senate seat in January after then-Gov. Eric Greitens appointed him to a six-year term on the PSC.
Silvey, 42, told the Democrat-Gazette that he was unaware of the activities described in the court documents and that, if the charges against the nonprofit’s executives are true, “they should be held to account for it.”
The cases are being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney offices in Arkansas and the Western District of Missouri. Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said he could confirm the investigation is ongoing but could not comment on "new defendants or new charges or what's going on with the investigation."
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.